Cou­ple’s trees poi­soned

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

A Pai­hia cou­ple are the lat­est in the Bay of Is­lands to have their trees poi­soned.

Lisa Har­ris and Daniel Gonin re­turned to their Sul­li­vans Rd home in Jan­uary after a nine-month stay in Aus­tralia to find sev­eral trees on and around their prop­erty were dead or sickly.

A large banksia on coun­cil land at the cor­ner of their drive­way had died com­pletely but it was only when an ar­borist found a series of small holes at the base of its trunk that they re­alised it had been poi­soned. That was con­firmed last week by a Far North Dis­trict Coun­cil staff mem­ber.

That spurred the cou­ple to ex­am­ine other ail­ing trees on their prop­erty, which re­vealed oth­ers too had been drilled.

The death toll in­cludes the banksia and a large ma¯nuka. A sec­ond banksia ap­pears to be dy­ing along with the tallest tree on the prop­erty, while a num­ber of smaller ma¯nuka have been cut down.

Har­ris said they had planted the banksias 25 years ago, five years after mov­ing to Sul­li­vans Rd from Switzer­land. At that time their house was one of only two in the im­me­di­ate area; now they are sur­rounded by top-end homes, many of them built in the past few years.

“I am maybe silly, it is ro­man­tic, but the trees are our ba­bies, we pam­per them. They take 20 years to grow, the birds come and they give us oxy­gen,” Har­ris said.

They planned to leave the dead trees stand­ing.

“We could cut them down and plant new ones but then they have won, they will have the view.”

Gonin said the ground in the area was un­sta­ble clay.

“With­out the trees it [the soil] will be gone. They take a long time to grow. It’s a crime,” he said.

The poi­son­ings and the re­sult­ing sus­pi­cions have sparked some­thing of a feud in the neigh­bour­hood with res­i­dents, in­clud­ing the Swiss cou­ple, is­su­ing tres­pass no­tices against each other.

It’s not new ei­ther. In 2005 a 20m-tall to­tara in their back­yard was poi­soned and had to be cut down.

A coun­cil spokesman said a staff mem­ber had in­ves­ti­gated a com­plaint lodged on Fe­bru­ary 22 that trees had been poi­soned on Sul­li­vans Rd.

The trees, which were on both pri­vate and coun­cil land, were found to have drill holes. Some were al­ready dead.

An ar­borist was due to in­spect the trees this week due to con­cerns that one could dam­age a house if it fell. The poi­son­ing has also been re­ported to Mid North po­lice.

Mean­while, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the poi­son­ing of four beach­front po­hutukawa at Opito Bay, near Kerik­eri, is con­tin­u­ing. In Novem­ber res­i­dents dis­cov­ered the ail­ing trees’ roots were rid­dled with drill holes. The coun­cil called in po­lice in De­cem­ber after be­ing un­able to iden­tify the cul­prit.

PIC­TURES / PETER DE GRAAF

Lisa Har­ris and Daniel Gonin with one of the poi­soned trees, a banksia which is on coun­cil land.

A dead banksia on coun­cil land.

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