Councils try to atone for blunder over trees

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 15:27 26/09/2012
South Coast trees
AMY JACKMAN

Restoration work: Allan Jenkins and Lillian Young decide where to plant new karaka trees in the Rangitatau reserve.

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Wellington's councils are scrambling to restore south coast residents' trust after destroying native trees in Rangitatau reserve last month.

The residents were angry when they found more than 1000 karo, karaka, pohutukawa and other native trees had been cut down, ring-barked or poisoned by Wellington City Council and Wellington Regional Council staff.

About 20 mature trees were affected. At least four of them were commemorative trees.

The residents planted 20 karaka seedlings last week to start restoring the area. The seedlings were donated by Lillian Young of Khandallah.

Since the incident, Wellington City Council has agreed to replace the damaged trees with the same type and number, regardless of the council's view about the suitability of the trees for the area.

Wellington Regional Council has temporarily banned its staff from controlling the non-indigenous native tree population until it develops a plan for including the community in the process.

The city council's chief operating officer, Derek Fry, said the damaged trees would be monitored to see if any survived. A decision would then be made about whether the trees needed to be removed and replaced.

The council will sign an agreement with the residents association to try to restore trust within the community.

"We intend to work with the community on a restoration plan of the reserve along with a revised memorandum of understanding," Mr Fry said.

"The restoration plan will provide guidance on planting in the reserve. A community-led planting initiative will be proposed for next winter."

President of the Breaker Bay and Moa Point Progressive Association Allan Jenkins said that until the agreement was signed the residents would not be doing volunteer work in the area.

"They need to make right what they did to the trees. The second thing is to sort out the agreement so this doesn't happen again. The locals are still spewing about it," he said.

"I've been impressed with Derek [Fry] standing up and admitting this needs to be fixed, but I believe the parks and gardens department is trying to worm their way out of trouble."

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