Council contractors this morning are felling five 78-year-old phoenix palms outside Taradale Primary School.

Local residents yesterday launched a last-ditch opposition and claimed Napier City Council hadn't

explored all options to save the trees.

Resident Alicia Dearing said the contractors had turned up before 8am today to begin the felling.

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"It's so sad to lose these trees," she said. "It's shocking and it's been done with very little public consultation. We were made aware of it but it's happened so quickly so that there was very little we could do about it."

Some residents earlier said the trees, planted on Arbour Day in the New Zealand centennial year of 1940, are of significance even if not heritage-listed.

Council yesterday said the trees are not identified under the District Plan as notable trees, and have been "a long running issue for the school".

A council spokesperson said the school board wrote to the council earlier this year with health and safety concerns, listing dead pigeons, rats, faecal matter, falling fronds and visibility issues at the pedestrian crossing.