An environmental group protesting the removal of native trees for a largescale property development in Avondale, Auckland has been shocked to discover that on Monday somebody had entered the site at night and poisoned 18 of the 24 trees, including a rare Kawaka.
Mana Rākau has been protesting at the development for 224 days and says an individual entered the site at around midnight, drilling holes into tree trunks and filling the holes with poison, before being scared off by a group member on night watch.
Ironically, on Friday the group hadfinally come to a deal with developer Ockham, which published it on its website: Urban tree protection to be expanded following landmark agreement.
Juressa Lee, a representative for the group, is devastated.
"It was the most horrible thing I had ever seen or heard, and in such close contact and being connected to such an act of violence. That's the only way I can describe it," Lee says.
Lee says that with her group holding other sites as well, it has attracted attention.
"They [the attacker] decided it was the time to strike. And it's happened because we are the only protection trees have.
"Council and government have failed to protect trees, so it's up to us, a community group.
"It's an unspeakable, heinous crime against trees."
The land is being developed by Ockham Developments