A Norfolk pine used as a Christmas tree by generations of a Paihia family has been poisoned in what is thought to be a bid by other residents to get a better view.
The attack has outraged the Cropper and Jorgensen families — owners of the Sullivans Rd property since 1955 — who have lost part of their family history.
While there's no proof of a link as yet, the attack bears the same hallmarks as a series of tree poisonings on the same street, most recently in March this year.
Jessica Jorgensen said the poisoned pine was originally used by her late mother Natalie Cropper as a living Christmas tree.
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When it grew too big for a pot she planted it beside the driveway where she continued to decorate it with chocolate Santas for her children — and later her grandchildren — until even the lower branches grew out of reach.
The festive tree welcomed family members as they returned to Paihia every Christmas, which was also her father's birthday.
''So to us it wasn't just any old tree. It was part of our family history,'' she said.
However, during Labour weekend a neighbour called the Auckland-based Jorgensens to say the tree was looking distinctly unwell.
An arborist found a series of drill holes and concluded it was ''definitely'' a case of poisoning. A second, smaller Norfolk pine on the other side of the driveway was also thought to have been poisoned.
Both trees were cut down on Thursday before they became dangerous. The taller tree was still strong enough to be climbed and cut down in sections but if it had been left much longer a crane would have been required.
The attack had not only taken part of the family's heritage, it had also left them thousands of dollars out of pocket for removing the trees.
''I'm outraged that someone would do something so underhand, with malice and forethought and no regard for anyone but themselves. You can't help but take it personally,'' she said.
Jessica Jorgensen said her mother had also planted a series of kauri to mark the birth of each grandchild so she was afraid they would be targeted next.
Her husband, Finn Jorgensen, said the smaller tree was not blocking anyone's view and appeared to have been poisoned as a ''pre-emptive strike'' before it could grow tall.
Even the bigger Norfolk pine did not have a large crown or dense foliage so was hardly blocking anyone's view.
The couple laid a complaint of criminal damage with Kerikeri police last Friday. They are also planning a leaflet drop around the neighbourhood offering a cash reward for information leading to a conviction.
Finn Jorgensen said if someone felt their view had been affected they could have got in contact or used the proper channels of going to court to ask for the trees to be trimmed.
''Instead they've taken the law into their own hands,'' he said.
In March another Sullivans Rd couple, Lisa Harris and Daniel Gonin, complained to police and the Far North District Council after several trees on their property and adjoining public land were poisoned while they were overseas.
Another of their prized trees, a 20m totara, had been poisoned about 15 years earlier. All the Sullivans Rd poisonings were carried out by the same method.
In December last year another attack sparked outrage in Kerikeri's Opito Bay when a row of waterfront pōhutukawa — also linked to a local family's forebears — had poison injected into a multitude of small holes drilled into their roots and trunks.
Despite extensive police and council inquiries insufficient evidence was found to charge anyone over the Opito Bay poisonings.
All four trees had been expected to die but made a remarkable recovery after treatment by Kerikeri plant nutrition expert Phil Walesby.
In March another pōhutukawa was poisoned on a council reserve at Coopers Beach.
■ If you have any information about the latest poisoning call Kerikeri police on (09) 407 9211.