The "depressing" felling of a large native tree has a Whangarei woman encouraging others to consider whether the trees they think are precious are protected, ahead of a review of the district's heritage tree list.

Sandy Caley watched aghast as an enthusiastic chainsaw operator took to a 30-metre puriri tree nextdoor to her Kamo home, toppling it in a matter of minutes earlier this month.

The tree was one of dozens, including some totara, being cleared to make way for the 56-hectare Totara Parklands residential development, though the developer, Mark Holland, had retained a large tract of bush which he had vested to council - about 500, mostly totara and kowhai, trees.

A nearby resident watched aghast as this large puriri in Kamo got the chop.
A nearby resident watched aghast as this large puriri in Kamo got the chop.

Mrs Caley said, while she was grateful the bush tract - about 50 metres from the puriri - had been saved, the large puriri had housed dozen of native birds, including kereru. "Every time they fell one of these huge trees about 6 or 8 wood pigeons fly out of the tree in terror. Oh, it's depressing. I know it's progress and it's his land, but it's depressing."

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She said she wished she had lobbied earlier to protect the tree. "[I want people] be aware, if they have a tree that's old and important to them, act now. Don't wait another year or two."

Mr Holland said he offered to sell a number of trees - including the puriri - back to the council.

Whangarei District Council group manager district living Paul Dell said purchasing the extra puriri tree would not be a good use of ratepayer money when the developer had already vested a large block of bush nearby to the council. "By doing so the developer has provided a publicly owned reserve that provides habitats for wildlife and enjoyment for the residents of the area."

Next year WDC would review its heritage trees list for the first time since it was created in 2007, as part of the 10-year rolling review of the district plan.

The review would entail public submissions on the current list of more than 270 heritage trees, as well as a review of the rules surrounding their identification and removal. Trees had to meet criteria on age, rarity and stature before they could be considered for the list.