Residents’ group wanted trees removed

The Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association wants these four magnolia trees in Crawford Reserve removed. Times photo Wayne Martin

Four large magnolia trees would have been removed from an east Auckland park if a local residents’ group had its way.

The Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association asked the Howick Local Board to remove the trees from Crawford Reserve in Picton Street.

The reserve is across the road from Stockade Hill and provides stunning views of the water off Mellons Bay.

Association chairman Matthew Brajkovich asked the board’s members to pass a resolution to remove the four magnolia trees during a recent board business meeting.

“Removal will secure a clear view of the harbour and avoid any future issues from this point, providing enhanced character as long as gardens [at the reserve] are planted with less than one-metre [high] shrubs and maintained,” he said.

Brajkovich said the issue was previously raised when the residents’ association was led by former chairwoman Gaylene Mackereth and when the late Dick Quax was serving as a Howick ward councillor.

He said the magnolia trees grow to over eight metres in height and showed the board photos he’d recently taken of them.

Brajkovich said the association’s committee was unanimous in its agreement the trees need to be removed “sometime in the near future” and it was requesting the board’s support.

“It is time these trees were fully removed before they severely impact the vista from Howick, which is one of the main features of Howick.”

The board passed a resolution during its business meeting requesting Auckland Council’s community facilities department provide advice to it on the matter.

The Times asked board chairperson Adele White and the council what process would be undertaken with the association’s request to have the trees removed.

Council regional arborists and ecological manager David Stejskal provided recommendations to the board on the trees.

Based on an assessment carried out by a council urban forest specialist, a recommendation was made to retain the trees and manage any perceived issues through pruning.

“The trees were planted in 2003-2004 as part of an approved landscaping for the development of Crawford reserve,” Stejskal’s advice states.

“Views are subjective and removal could result in setting an unwanted precedent for all public trees.”

The advice says the council’s public tree guidelines do not allow removal of public trees solely for view enhancement.

Removal would be “at odds” with the council’s urban ngahere strategy and the city’s climate plan, it says.

“Uninterrupted views can still be enjoyed by visiting Crawford Reserve.

“There are no justifiable arboriculture reasons for removal as [the] trees are in good condition.

“Benefits / positives of having the trees vastly outweigh any perceived negatives.

“[The] trees are providing important screening, amenity, ecosystem benefits to Crawford Reserve users and wider public.”

The four magnolia trees have been added to scheduled maintenance work to be completed in the last quarter of this year.

White says: “Our board has met with community facilities and accepted their recommendation.

“We have given direction the trees be pruned on a higher frequency to ensure their current compact form is maintained.”