Kapiti Trees Controversy

Photo - Google maps
Photo – Google maps

OK to axe native trees on Waikanae property, says KCDC

By Alan Tristram

The Kapiti Coast District Council has told a Waikanae couple they can trim or cut down ngaio native trees bordering their property  — because they were planted rather than natural bush and as such are not protected under the current District Plan.

It’s a somewhat contentious move, as meanwhile the KCDC is proceeding to prosecute an elderly Otaki couple, Peter and Diana Standen, for cutting and trimming native trees on their property. You can get experts to help you with this process contact them here.

The Waikanae couple, Nance and John Buckley, understood they couldn’t trim or modify the trees (visit their website) without resource consent. But Andrew Guerin, Council’s Resource Consents and Compliance Manager, says that is not the case.

Mr Guerin said after visiting the property:

“What I observed on the property are several ngaio trees along the boundary, all in a straight line, equally spaced and of the same age. I advised the owners that the trees were most likely planted rather than naturally regenerated. As such they can be removed or modified without resource consent.”

Some ngaios protected, some not

Mr Guerin says ngaio trees are naturally occurring on the Kāpiti Coast and those trees are protected under the current District Plan.

However, he says, he has no doubt the trees on the Buckley’s property have been planted, possibly as a shelter belt.

“I am sure it was a relief for the Buckleys to know the trees are not protected, which gives them more options in managing their property.

“The last thing Council wants to do is to discourage people from planting native trees because they are concerned that in 10 years they will need resource consent to trim or modify them.”

‘Confusion in the community’

Mr Guerin says it is clear there is some confusion in the community, particularly in light of widespread publicity in the past couple of weeks about what types of trees require resource consent to be felled or modified.

“If people have any doubt, they can contact Council to check the status of their native trees,” he says.

He says Kāpiti residents seeking advice on the “do’s and don’ts” of dealing with trees and native vegetation can get information from the Council website http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/Planning/Sustainability. Click on the link “Sustaining our environment” to find pages containing downloadable documents and lists of useful links.

Kapiti Stunt Man

In light of the recent news I’ve been reading, I can see an exciting business opportunity here on the Coast.

I’m thinking of offering a service to all locals unfortunate enough to discover young native trees on their property (if they have the calamity of more mature native trees over four metres in height, of course, they’d be beyond our help and at the mercy of our Council’s resource consents department, no matter how decrepit or problematic the trees might be).

So. For a fee (generally much less than a $750+ KCDC resource consent), Kapiti Stunt Man would come to your place and stunt (or completely remove) all your under-four-metre natives. We’d also offer you a wide range of exotic nursery alter-natives which you could plant to your heart’s content, without any fear of future prosecution or exorbitant fees.

Our service would include annual return visits to check whether your natives were getting restless . . . I mean, tall.

Alongside this suite of services we would develop a Bonzai Your Natives package – which I think is pretty self-explanatory.

Personally I’m quite fond of indigenous trees, and I have no idea why our Council seems so determined to scare locals out of harbouring them. But business is business.