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Family fear the widow maker

Last updated 13:45 24/06/2014
gum tree
WIDOW MAKER: This image taken after the storm that hit earlier this month shows the damage caused to the gum tree that blocked this Beach Haven driveway.
Craig Newth
Sarah Argyle
TOWERING PROBLEM: Craig Newth can’t understand why the council won’t allow him to remove a tree that towers 25 metres above his house.

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Every time the wind blows Craig Newth and his family worry what will happen to a 25 metre gum tree that towers over their house.

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The Beach Haven, Auckland, resident says he doesn't understand why the council won't allow it to be removed.

Because their property is exposed to wind, the family's nerves are frayed.

Newth says gum trees, also known as widow makers, are notorious for dropping limbs.

A council arborist, Vector worker and private arborist have all on separate occasions said the branches from the tree could injure someone and it should be removed, he says.

But when Newth approached the council they told him resource consent was needed and then declined it on more than one occasion.

"The council told me it's not their problem, but yet they're still the ones not letting us cut it down," he says.

Earlier this month, when a storm thrashed the area a large branch fell, blocking Newth's driveway.

During summer months his family has to climb out the window because the tree sucks water and causes the house to move, he says.

A council spokesperson says the gum tree at Newth's property is protected under the Auckland Council's District Plan.

"Council received two separate applications to remove the gum tree on October 23, 2012, and again on September 17, 2013.

"On both occasions an arborist from Auckland Council conducted a site visit and requested a report from an independent arborist."

The spokesperson says for numerous reasons the consent was denied and that not all the required information was provided by Newth.

"Should the tree owner wish to pursue tree removal, we would be happy to accept a new application, which should be supported with the previously requested arboricultural report."

Newth disputes this and says as far as he is aware the only outstanding information is a geotechnical report, which is expensive and won't guarantee approval.

"We believe the council would agree these trees are dangerous as we get consistent messages from professionals and non-professionals.

However, somehow the tree is protected and that would appear to be the problem.

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"If these trees are notorious for dropping perfectly good limbs, what are we waiting for? It is not as if the tree is blocking our views. In fact, I like the tree, but it is simply dangerous and too big for a small section.

Newth says he is happy to replant the area with a native such as kowhai, which will also benefit the bird life.

- North Shore Times


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