Locals are calling on Auckland Council to "up their game" after an error saw three protected trees chopped down.
Avondale resident Robin Brehmer was shocked to see three 80-year-old pecan trees lying on the ground of a property on Avondale Rd, this week.
The approximately 20m-high trees were cut down by a contractor, on behalf of the property owner - the result of a mistake by the council.
General manager of resource consents Ian Smallburn told the Herald the property owner had recently approached the council to check if the trees were scheduled as notable.
However, an error in their online maps meant that the trees were "inadvertently" recorded as being on a neighbouring property.
"Subsequently, we have provided the property owner with incorrect information, advising them that the trees were not on the schedule, when in fact they were. As a result of our error, three trees have been removed," Smallburn said.
"We deeply regret this has occurred and sincerely apologise for the mistake."
Brehmer said the council must do better.
"They are the experts. They shouldn't make a mistake," Brehmer said. "You can't make a mistake on a tree because you can't put it back."
The trees once stood tall on the property, which was owned by Brehmer's family for 60 years before they sold it about two years ago. She lived there as a child and more recently with her own family.
The large property has since been subdivided.
"They were just beautiful," said Brehmer. "You think they are safe and then they are just cut down."
She said the pecan trees were always full of birds, including tui and fantail, and in winter, they were covered with hundreds of monarch butterflies.
Two other pecan trees remained on the property.
"The council needs to up their game somehow," Brehmer said.
Avondale resident Nina Patel was also upset to see the trees go.
"I was gutted because they had huge historical significance. Also because I know the community worked hard to make sure they were protected," she said.
Brehmer was among locals who worked hard to have the trees scheduled as notable.
The council told the Herald the trees had been scheduled in the Auckland Unitary Plan because of their amenity value.
According to Auckland Council's website, "a notable tree is a tree or group of trees that a community or nation regards as being of special importance".
Reasons for special importance included a tree's age or it's historical or cultural value.
Brehmer said the trees fitted several of the categories including being historically significant as the property where they were located, was once owned by distinguished Kiwi horticulturist Hayward Wright.
It was at the Avondale Rd property that Wright selected and cultivated the "Hayward" variety of Chinese gooseberry (kiwifruit).
Notable trees can't be cut down or removed without the council approving resource consent.
Brehmer wanted to see the council issue a public apology and improve their processes including making their systems more accessible to the public, so people could easily check if trees were scheduled or not.