Rich-lister on charges after trees felled

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 13:00 13/11/2012
bach
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

RAZED: Part of the area where trees were felled on the headland reserve between Tapu Bay and Stephens Bay. The Davies bach is at top left.

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A Queenstown rich-lister whose family owns three South Island skifields faces charges in relation to 110 trees cut down in a reserve beside his bach on the Stephens Bay headland near Kaiteriteri.

Michael Davies, who owns a new bach adjacent to the areas where the trees were cut down, and arborist Simon Carney are defending charges in relation to the felling.

The case is scheduled to be next called in the Nelson District Court in February.

The Tasman District Council has confirmed it has laid the charges but will not comment further.

Mr Davies did not want to comment on the matter. Mr Carney also declined to comment.

The Stephens Bay Esplanade Reserve, which covers steep coastal slopes between Tapu Bay and Stephens Bay, south of Kaiteriteri, is managed by the council.

The trees cut down were of varying sizes and ages and include native and indigenous species.

Mr Davies has built a bach that covers three sections at the end of Anarewa Cres, which borders the esplanade reserve.

Mr Davies, who bought the land from equestrian Mark Todd, has cut down mature trees on his property which he was legally entitled to do.

However, other protected trees have been felled in the reserve and Queen's chain around his property.

When the Nelson Mail walked around the public reserve at the headland last week, the removal of the trees was obvious.

Trees to the north and south of Mr Davies' property have been felled, leaving clear views out to the sea.

Trees on the tip of the headland, including a heritage black beech, remain.

Stephens Bay bach owner Sandy Stephens said the trees were cut down in March.

She arrived at her neighbouring bach after the trees had been cut down. The Conservation Department was contacted about the felling.

She said the removal of the trees was a form of vandalism and she worried their removal had left the headland vulnerable to erosion.

Removing bigger trees also made the remaining trees vulnerable to the wind.

Erosion of the hillside was already visible at some points, she said.

Ms Stephens said some of the trees that were cut down included heritage black beech trees.

Other felled natives included rare mistletoe, black beech and whitey-wood.

DOC used the reserve to take seed from the mistletoe to plant in Abel Tasman National Park.

Others residents in Stephens

Bay were incensed at what Mr Davies had done, but were not willing to talk publicly about it, Ms Stephens said.

Trees in the area were extremely slow growing due to the granite soil, she said.

Last year, Nelson man Harry Baigent paid $15,000 in reparation for his role in felling several native trees on a reserve near his Kaiteriteri property, because they were shading it.

DOC, which looks after the reserve on the headland between Kaiteriteri Beach and Little Kaiteriteri Beach, pressed charges in the case and they were withdrawn after Mr Baigent completed the police diversion scheme.

In 2007, about 20 trees and shrubs in the 3.2-hectare Alex Ryder Reserve in Rowling Rd on the Little Kaiteriteri foreshore were poisoned.

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At the time, Tasman District Council staff said the attacks were probably carried out to benefit property owners' views.

In 2002, American developer Alan Trent caused controversy when he felled pine trees on the Kina cliffs, which led to serious erosion of the cliffs.

Mr Trent had permission from the council to carry out the felling but later spent $250,000 to re-seed trees on the steep cliffs and admitted it may have been wrong to cut down all the trees at once.

WHO IS MICHAEL DAVIES?

Michael Davies is part of the Davies family of Queenstown who are listed in the National Business Review Rich List with a wealth of $90 million.

His father, John Davies, was a former mayor of Queenstown. The Davies family own Trojan Holdings, which has expanded its interests from transport into tourism and property.

John Davies bought trucking company Northern Southland Transport in the 1960s.

Trojan Holdings is the major shareholder in nzski.com which owns three ski areas: Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

The company has a 40 per cent stake in NZ Bungy - owner of AJ Hackett Bungy Operations.

It also owns Tourism Milford, which owns the Hermitage Hotel at Aoraki-Mt Cook and the Milford Track Guided Walk.

The Routeburn Guided Walks and Davies Rentals are part of the portfolio.

Trojan Holdings is also involved in commercial and residential property development.

It is behind a Walnut Grove subdivision at Lake Hayes.

On the subdivision's website Mr Davies says historic walnuts at the site will be protected by restrictive covenants.

Source: National Business Review and biography of Trojan Holdings on its residential property subdivision - Walnut Grove, Lake Hayes.

- The Nelson Mail

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