'Landowner's duty' to advise of boundaries

23:44, Feb 13 2013

The Arrowtown man whose arborist felled 110 native trees in a council reserve in the Tasman district did not tell contractors where his boundaries lay, failing in his responsibility as a landowner, a court has heard.

Lawyer Julian Ironside concluded his case against Michael John Davies yesterday by arguing the defendant could have avoided the tree-felling by simply pointing out where his property ended.

Judge Brian Dwyer reserved his decision until tomorrow morning.

Davies, whose family's wealth is estimated at $90 million, has denied two charges under the Reserves Act and the Resource Management Act for employing an arborist who, in February last year, cut down 110 native trees on a reserve on Stephens Bay headland, managed by the Tasman District Council.

His trial in the Environment Court in Nelson began on Monday with his arborist, Simon Carney, pleading guilty to contravening the Resource Management Act by cutting down trees.

Landscaper Christopher Donald, of Great Southern Landscapes, has also been charged with cutting down trees under the Reserves Act. His case was remanded until tomorrow. The Tasman District Council laid the charges.


In his closing statement, Mr Ironside referred to a meeting at the property on February 3 last year, attended by Carney and his wife, Tanya, Davies and his wife, Bridget, landscaper Lynley Bird, and Davies' builder.

Davies had told the court he never gave instructions as to where the arborist was to work, and never pointed out the boundaries at that meeting. Mr Ironside argued this meant he had not discharged his duty as a landowner.

Instead, the general instruction Davies gave to the arborist "to do what he was allowed to do" within his property, went nowhere near the onus of responsibility.

Davies told the court that he had trusted Mrs Bird to carry out the landscaping, and was "100 per cent certain" that she knew the boundaries. Davies told the court he and his wife were horrified by the tree-felling. Fairfax NZ

The Southland Times