The poisoned gum trees are on a popular walking track near the historic Stone Store in Kerikeri. Photo / Jenny Ling
The man responsible for poisoning 50 large gum trees near Kerikeri’s historic Stone Store in the Far North has been fined $800.
But a decision still hasn’t been made by the Department of Conservation (DoC) on what action to take with the dead trees following the incident, which forced the closure of a popular walking track.
DoC acting operations manager Lara McDonald said an infringement notice had been issued to a local elderly man for a fine of $800.
“We are considering options, including felling and removal, felling and letting debris lie in place and letting debris fall naturally – although this option is unlikely,” she said.
“Work will start once a decision has been made.”
This was likely to be by the end of August, McDonald said.
The trees are located at Kororipo Heritage Park, which includes the historic Stone Store, Kemp House, Kororipo Pā and Te Ahurea, formerly Rewa’s Village.
The whole area is known as a Tohu Whenua heritage site.
Heritage NZ Pouhere Taonga Northland manager Bill Edwards said the new backdrop “doesn’t look the best”.
“It provides part of the backdrop to the whole area, and vegetation doesn’t look good when it’s been poisoned.
“It’s not good when you have a pile of dead trees at a heritage place and tourism place.
“It’s detrimental to the basin.”
The poisoning came to light when local residents spotted a man in the reserve drilling holes in tree trunks.
DoC said the man believed he was “doing the right thing” by removing non-indigenous trees and had undertaken his poisoning operation over a three-month period.
The Hongi Hika track, near the car park just uphill from the Stone Store, was closed on Monday afternoon due to the risk of dead trees toppling over in high winds.
DoC was in the process of discussing options for the dead eucalypts with local hapū Ngāti Rēhia and Heritage New Zealand.
McDonald said other trees would be replanted in their place. However, she couldn’t say what type.
“We are working to incorporate this area into an existing piece of work for landscape planning for the kāinga [settlement] and the wider area.
“We have requested this poisoned area is included in the work currently under way.”
It is the only instance of tree poisoning on DoC land in Northland on record, McDonald said.
Jenny Ling is a news reporter and features writer for the Northern Advocate. She has a special interest in covering roading, health, business and animal welfare issues.