Couple blame arsonists for landslip

By Aleisha Moore

Part of a cliff behind the Crescent Rd house slipped into Hobson Bay during last week's storms. Photo / Greg Bowker
Part of a cliff behind the Crescent Rd house slipped into Hobson Bay during last week's storms. Photo / Greg Bowker

A wealthy Auckland couple are blaming young arsonists for a land slip at their $8 million dollar Parnell home last week.

Peter and Elizabeth Coote, who have owned the Crescent Rd property for 41 years, said people were pointing the finger at them.

"People have been tweeting around saying 'oh these rich people cut their trees down to get a better view of the water and now the cliff fell down and it's all their fault so ha ha'," said Mrs Coote. "But that's not why it happened at all."

The couple said that six 12-year-old children who set trees on a cliff behind their property alight over two years ago were the real cause of the problem.

"The whole cliff went up [in flames]," said Mrs Coote. "All the pohutukawa trees and everything. The firemen said that if it had been another three minutes we would have lost our house."

The couple have spent nearly $300,000 over the past two years trying to replenish the cliff's shrubbery.

Mr Coote, a 71-year-old chartered accountant, hired engineers who examined the damage to the cliff face and said the trees would have needed at least five years for their roots to take hold.

"There wasn't enough time for the trees to set their roots in, so they weren't able to suck the water up from the rain the night before," said Mr Coote.

Huge downpours from multiple thunderstorms on Thursday night last week caused part of the land at the back of the property to slide down the cliff and into Hobson Bay.

The Parnell house and surrounding properties suffered no damage but it is now only held up by one wall, and a second wall to prevent further damage could cost up to $100,000.

"The only compensation we will get will be from the earthquake damage fund [EQC] but that will only be fractional of what it will actually cost to fix."

The Cootes were appalled by the behaviour of the children. "Not one parent came and said sorry to us," said Mrs Coote. "Boys will be boys, we're not silly, but a sorry goes a long way.

"We took it up with the parents but they weren't even interested in bringing the kids around to see the damage they'd done."

- NZ Herald

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