Ageing pohutukawa trees a menace, say residents

Trev Dodunski who would like to see a row of Pohutukawa trees are to the public replaced with fruit trees.
Trev Dodunski who would like to see a row of Pohutukawa trees are to the public replaced with fruit trees.

Residents of a Waitara neighbourhood are worried a line of fragile pohutukawas on their street will topple and injure or kill someone.

A branch at least 10 metres long cracked off one of the trees and fell across the Bayly St footpath after light winds at the weekend.

Long-time resident Trevor Dodunski said the pohutukawas were overgrown and decaying, and posed a danger to pedestrians and motorists.

"We are worried these trees are going to kill someone. If a branch comes down over the road or on the footpath when someone's walking or driving, it's going to be serious."

He said the branch that came off at the weekend was the third to fall in a matter of months and he had not seen the council maintaining the trees on the side of the road that had no powerlines.

"They used to come out every two years and cut them back to the knuckles. But now they don't. It's in the interests of saving money; they only come out when there's a problem."

The residents had phoned the New Plymouth District Council about the latest branch to come down and had been told it would be dealt with.

Steve McGill, manager parks programmes, said council arborists did maintain the trees to best arborcultural practice, although it might differ from what residents expected.

"We have an annual maintenance programme of thinning and crown pruning, so we do keep an eye on them."

Mr Dodunski said the trees were planted shortly before he built his house 40 years ago and had become increasingly problematic as they grew.

"We've had the council out here because their roots grow under the concrete and block the drains and then there's a river going down the street and the kids have to wear gumboots to walk to school."

Neighbour Kerry Voyle said he was concerned the branches would crash down into his property and destroy his fence.

"When it gets windy the branches will come right down."

Mr Dodunski said the trees already created a tremendous mess whenever a gale blew.

"The wife's always out there sweeping, sweeping, sweeping, and then the next day she'll be back out there again."

He said the residents of Bayly St he had talked to would like the pohutukawas removed altogether.

"They serve no purpose other than to beautify the street.

"I'd like to plant fruit trees and then the kids can come along and have a feed. They do that down in Whanganui - they have lots of nut trees planted."

Mr McGill felt their removal would be a loss for the street.

"They're certainly old and very nice trees and it would be a shame to remove them while they're still nice trees. It would be a sad district without them."

Taranaki Daily News