Otaki Tree Felling Case

gavin welshKCDC apologies to elderly Otaki couple for calling in the cops

The Kāpiti Coast District Council has conceded it didn’t need to involve police in a visit to the couple at the centre of a prosecution for cutting down native trees on their property at Otaki.

But Cr Gavin Welsh, chair of the Corporate Business Committee (left) , has defended the action of Council staff in seeking a prosecution against the two land owners and a contractor over the destruction of native trees on two properties.

Councillor Welsh says the Council is coming under increasing pressure to protect local environments and needs to act where appropriate.

But he says he concedes Council didn’t need to involve the police in a visit to the Standen’s property and it has written to apologise to the couple for any distress caused.

“I really feel for the people at the centre of this case but the decision to prosecute wasn’t taken lightly.  Property owners have a responsibility to uphold the law and Council staff were just doing the job elected members have asked them to do.

Trees protected by Plan

“Trees are an important part of the Kāpiti Coast District’s ecology and naturally-occurring indigenous vegetation and heritage trees are protected by the District Plan.  Property owners with native trees on their land need to safeguard that ecology and be aware that if they don’t there will be consequences.”

Cr Welsh says the destruction and severe pruning of trees on the Ōtaki properties was extensive, involving more than 70 trees.

“As it happens,” he says,”we have limited the prosecution to just seven trees so Council is not seeking anywhere near the penalties it could.

“This has been a difficult case for all concerned but we hope it will provide a deterrent to other property owners and seek to make people more aware of a need to treat the environment with respect.”


Talking facts here – Both property owners were charged. The others don’t want to be in the media, but face the same, 2 yrs imprisonment or $300’000 fines. On Friday KCDC gave out a list – Around 40 of the ‘trees’ or half the list were scrubby softwood, native forest undergrowth not trees. Today there are hundreds of little native seedlings sprouting where all this deadwood was, it,s marvellous. This care is just what the bush needed.

Having heard both sides of the story, I wish to adjust my earlier sympathetic expression to the people involved.

What cinched this was the story on Campbell Live last night which was an unbalanced version of the issue and clearly biased to engender sumpathy.

Apparently there were two property owners involved in the felling and the second owner has not come forward in support to the prosecuted and remains nameless.

The unfortunate tree felling company should be apportioned the blame. Any professional arborist should be familiar with the local council’s policies on the destruction of indigenous ecosystems.

The admitted felling of only 7 tress is clearly misleading as at least 70 trees were involved.

The natural environment in Kapiti is a treasure. I believe the council is correct in prosecuting any serious infringement which circumnavigates resource consent.

Yea the likes of KCDC contract in gorillas to do the road side pruning in our district !, we witnessed recently a mower pruning wattle, blackberry and banana passion fruit along the motorway (spread seeds and noxious plants much ?), so who’s the environmental terrorists in Kapiti ?

I agree an administrative / support agency that knows what they are talking about should be the people we contact for advise on these matters.

All govt departments including councils should have mandatory training in public relations, once upon a time they were doing kiwi host courses etc.

If these elderly people were my family I’d be seriously looking to counter sue somebody here. They seriously sound like they were doing the right thing, Trees do need guidance at times.

Thank you to Environment Minister Amy Adams for stepping in here. My strss levels are declining rapidly.

I do hope that this will lead to significant conservation areas like this being taken out of local body hand s altogether and put directly under the responsibility of the Department of Conservation.

This handling of this case has highlighted quite clearly that local authorities clearly lack the expertise and people skills to be responsible for such a valuable ecological area such as we the residents have here.

Councillor welsh`s behaviour is disgusting and a clear case of elder abuse. The couple pleaded guilty solely because the councils severe and arrogant manner was too stressful for them to cope with. Anyone who heard the news report on Coast FM this morning will have experienced councils offensive approach to the handling of this case. All charges should be dropped and a normal people person sent to the property to advise and inform these very nice people.
The trimming was not excessive and was performed by a professional. I have been told that no trees involved are any the worse for the mild pruning.