Island erupts over pohutukawa poisoning

By Anne Beston

Threats of vigilante action have been made over the deliberate poisoning of a giant pohutukawa on Great Barrier Island.

A handful of neighbours in Rosalie Bay in the southeast of Great Barrier are furious the pohutukawa, which could be up to 300 years old and was growing on private land, had been destroyed.

Around nine holes were drilled into the base of the trunk which were then filled with a lethal mix of banned poisons including 245-T and 2,4-D.

The holes were then capped using a commercially bought sealant.

The Auckland City Council is investigating two other tree poisonings in the same area.

Council compliance officer Phillip Linder said he had questioned neighbours and the owner of the property where the tree was growing and although locals had their suspicions over who was responsible, a prosecution might be difficult.

He called it "a blatant act of environmental vandalism".

The big tree would not recover.

Emotions were running high on the island and rumours had circulated that locals were threatening to burn down the suspected culprit's house.

"We wouldn't countenance that sort of nonsense," Mr Linder said.

The only possible reason he could see for destroying the tree was that it was growing on a possible house site, but it did not block any views.

The tree's location was the ultimate irony.

"It's on a road called Pohutukawa Place," Mr Linder said.

Meanwhile, a Beachlands man has been fined $30,000 in the Manukau District Court for illegally chopping 13 pohutukawa which spoiled his view.

Manukau City councillor Jan Sinclair said the illegal pruning had done long-term damage, but the trees would survive.

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