A deliberate poisoning campaign aimed at destroying six large native trees at Napier Central School has finally taken its toll, with contractors having to fell the 60-year-old trees this week after they failed to recover.
"A very sad day today for Napier Central School with the removal of the poisoned trees on the southern boundary with Colenso Ave," it was noted on the Greenscene Napier Facebook site.
"An act of deliberate vandalism, whereby the trees were drilled and poisoned, has caused their decline over recent months to the point where they are now dead and dangerous."
The trees were targeted last August, with holes drilled into their trunks and poison inserted.
The first signs that something was up emerged after school resumed for the third term and youngsters playing around the trees saw a large amount of fallen leaves and found discoloured branches.
Six holes were found drilled in the trees. The area was roped off and experts were called in to see if they could be brought back to health. But despite plenty of care and attention they could not and have had to come down.
Principal Ross McLeod said the stand of big trees had been a treasured part of the playground for many decades and it was sad to see them go.
"It is a shame to lose them because it was such a nice area and now we'd like to do something to ensure it stays a nice area."
Plans would be put together to re-landscape the area with parents, children and the community invited by the school board to come up with ideas as to what they would like to see.
"We hope to get on to it as soon as we can," Mr McLeod said.
A landscaper would be brought in and new trees were likely to be part of the equation.
In the wake of how the trees began to deteriorate during the past months, safety had become the number one consideration, Mr McLeod said.
The trees had been valuable in terms of providing good shade for the children, who played around them as the school had a strong "sun smart" programme.
Since the poisoning there had been suggestions someone in the neighbourhood was unhappy about the shade they cast but Mr McLeod said residents he had approached and spoken to were disgusted and saddened to see what had happened.
Police were advised and dropped leaflets throughout the area, but the culprit had not been identified.