OPINION: In my youth, my family home had the most beautiful blossom tree that dominated our front garden. Everyone admired it because it was extraordinary.
Our drive was a sea of pink in autumn.
When it was in season, it flourished over into a neighbouring garden. Not the roots or anything, just the branches. One day I came home from school and half the tree was gone. Apparently the neighbours didn't appreciate the blossom falling on to their driveway. Just like that. The tree never really recovered. It never looked so beautiful again.
The issue that bothered my parents most was that the neighbours didn't ask. They just cut. No communication, just chopped. Gone. Perhaps we could have come to an arrangement about keeping the blossom drop raked up. Something.
The neighbours argued the branches that they cut were on their property, so technically they only cut from their side of the tree. And they were perfectly, legally, allowed to do so.
According to the Property Law Act 2007, there is a ''self-help'' remedy. This allows the neighbours to cut the branches down that stretch in their garden. If this occurs, the branches must be returned to you because, after all, it is your tree.
That's great, isn't it? Thanks so much for these hacked branches that have now made my tree go from glorious to average. No, please, you keep them! Honestly, I don't mind.
The question of ''my tree - your tree'' then grows to all trees, whether blossom or fruit. If your tree sprawls its lengthy branches and delicious fruit or blossom over to the neighbour's garden then, technically, is it the neighbour's fruit or yours?
Older people have a notorious reputation for being protective of the fruit on their trees. One older woman reported a postman for stealing an orange, all of which had fallen off the tree and rolled on to the ground.
Surely the woman and her family couldn't possibly consume the amount of fruit that the tree would produce in the season. Would she even eat the fruit once it had fallen on the floor?
Maybe, if the postman had communicated his wishes with the woman, maybe even offered to pick the higher fruit for her, she would have come out with a bag and a ladder to help him out.
Ultimately the real dilemma is not that people steal your fruit or cut down some of your blossom tree, rather that people don't have the courtesy to ask. Yes, we're allowed to take and to chop. But the world would be nicer if we talked about it all first.
Got a suggestion for the Modern Manners team? Email features editor Deborah Sloan on firstname.lastname@example.org or write her c/- aifThe Waikato Timesaif, Private Bag 3086, Waikato Mail Centre, Hamilton 3240.
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