Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Hacked trees anger Rotorua activist (+video)

A group of trees "mercilessly hacked" by an unknown attacker has riled one of Rotorua's well-known environmental activists.

Kiri Danielle was lost for words when she discovered a group of about six trees, within the Arikikapakapa Recreation Reserve, had been taken to by what she believed to be a chainsaw.

The area is administered under the Reserves Act by the Department of Conservation but leased by Arikikapakapa Golf Course.

A spokesman from the golf course said he knew nothing about the damaged trees.

The area of the reserve is behind the construction zone for the Hemo Rd Roundabout but New Zealand Transport Agency said the trees were not part of any demolition plans.

Ms Danielle said in her opinion there was no reason for the attack "other than to kill the trees".

"They have been mercilessly hacked at, by who? I don't know yet but I'm trying to find out.

Kiri Danielle covered herself in mud to protest the destruction of trees in an area within the Arikikapakapa Recreation Reserve. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Kiri Danielle covered herself in mud to protest the destruction of trees in an area within the Arikikapakapa Recreation Reserve. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

"This space is the mecca of clean earth for me and it's horrible to see somebody has tried to ruin this magical spot - it's a sacred place.

"The mud pools all around have names and a rich history and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get these trees patched up."

Ms Danielle covered herself in mud from a nearby pool and stripped down this week, telling the Rotorua Daily Post it was her way of making a statement that she was serious about the protection of the trees.

She described the spot as a "little slice of paradise" and said it was where she fell in love with mother nature.

"This is a spot worth fighting for, it's a spot worth defending and that's what I'm going to do."

She said her first priority was healing the trees and then getting the area made into an official walkway like Kuirau Park.

Department of Conservation ranger Caraline Abbott said it was hard to investigate wood thefts unless there were witnesses.

"We do investigate native wood thefts where there is enough evidence. If somebody catches somebody doing this, they should call the DoC hotline.

Responding to Ms Danielle's desire to turn the area into an official walkway, Ms Abbott said the creation of new assets was not something DoC entered into lightly.

"We need to consider ongoing maintenance of the trails, depreciation and an assessment of environmental effects.

"We're open to having a discussion with Kiri but as there is a lease over the land, she should talk to the leaseholder in the first instance.

"We encourage willing community members to 'adopt' existing walking tracks rather than go down the route of establishing new ones. Adopting a track involves trimming vegetation, cleaning signs, collecting litter and helping with general upkeep of assets."

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