Arborists are chopping down an historic Norfolk pine at Snells Beach despite the passionate community's pleas to let it stay.

Local man Grant McLachlan saw the men up the tree already using their chainsaws when he walked his dog at 7.30am this morning. He said they were chopping down branches so no one else could climb the tree.

"They are just a bunch of rednecks the developers have brought in. No local arborists have been willing to touch the tree

"I'm absolutely disgusted. These guys are ugly Auckland. They are the worst. No one else wanted to cut this tree down," McLachlan told the Herald.

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Snells Beach locals were outraged when developers obtained a non-notified consent to cut down the 150-year-old tree from a public reserve as part of a 33-home development.

Arborist Charlie Cottrell-Jury climbed the tree to stop it being felled on September 28. But he was arrested when he scrambled down the tree to try to stop contractors from ring barking when they took to it with an axe.

Arborist Charlie Cottrell-Jury, who occupied the tree, was arrested when he came down to stop arborists from ring barking it. Photo / Supplied
Arborist Charlie Cottrell-Jury, who occupied the tree, was arrested when he came down to stop arborists from ring barking it. Photo / Supplied

The tree was then given first aid by locals who treated the tree's wounds and bandaged it.

The Snells Beach community members had previously asked local councillors for help and they even went to the Environment Court seeking an interim protection order, which was not granted.

Developers Vavasour Investments have a resource consent from Auckland Council to remove the 40m-high tree.

The consent said the developer wanted to remove the tree because of "the propensity of large mature Norfolk pine trees to drop substantial litter including branches, and the public safety of this tree in the long term relative to the public reserve and close residential dwellings".

The developer planned to replace the tree with "a large semi-mature transplanted pohutukawa" that would "reinforce the indigenous habitat qualities of the coastal environment".

NZ Tree Register manager Brad Cadwallader has said the tree's 6.8m girth was comparable with another Norfolk pine planted in 1870 at nearby Scandrett Regional Park (7.24m) and one planted in 1836 at the Waitangi Treaty grounds (7.53m).

"The size of the tree is consistent with other trees of known age in NZ of approximately 150-plus years," he said.

"With a girth of 680cm it currently ranks in the top seven of [Norfolk pines] listed in the NZ Tree Register."