Photo credit: Paul Baragwanath “This is the last great Pohutukawa tree out of ten that have vanished nearby. Until today, there was a pair. Unless you act now, this too will shortly be gone.”


The Tree Council is disappointed to receive yet more reports of unnecessary urban tree removals from our members during our annual celebration of the urban forest in New Zealand Tree Week.

In the week when our members heard from Professor Margaret Stanley the enormous benefits that urban trees provide for city dwellers at our AGM we have lost more mature pohutukawa in Reihana Street, Ōrākei.

Local resident Paul Baragwanath has written to government ministers, including Environment Minister David Parker and Housing Minister Phil Twyford, to demand that urban trees are better protected.

Mr Baragwanath said “It is with horror that I have observed today one of the last great pohutukawa trees of Ōrākei, Auckland, being felled before my eyes. The tree was situated on the boundary between 75 and 77 Reihana Street. 75 is owned by Housing New Zealand. 77 is owned by a property developer. Due to a spurious complaint by the developer about this tree hampering a new retaining wall, a Housing New Zealand agent agreed to the property developer’s request to cut down this great tree.”

“This may seem insignificant to you.  But it is just the latest. And your policies are responsible.  This tree was one of only two out of at least ten that have vanished from this street alone in the past few years since the Government removed protection of trees. There is only one left in this street!  This street is just one of thousands.

“Every year for 100 years at Christmas this great tree – and all the others that have vanished – glowed red.  A rare haven for birds. It lifted the spirit of this area: it rose above asphalt and housing. Now there is nothing.”

The Tree Council supports Mr Baragwanath’s call for the Government to take urgent action to restore protection for urban trees. The pressure of development is increasing daily and the current lack of protection enables decisions to be made hastily and without any process of consideration of the values and benefits of these trees to the people of Auckland and future residents of these houses.

By the time we all wake up and realise what we have lost it will be too late.

The Tree Council encourages all those who wish to live in New Zealand cities that value their trees, and the benefits and services they provide, to write to Hon. David Parker at asking him to urgently restore protection to urban trees.