Home > A Little Blue Marble Called Earth > From Totara trees to shiny, pretty, plastic

From Totara trees to shiny, pretty, plastic



New Zealand prides itself on it’s Clean & Green image.  As a nation we trade on that image in a $5 billion tourism industry as well as localised film production. Our natural wilderness beauty was practically a co-star in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

But when we say we like our environment Clean & Green – what does “green” actually refer to? Surely not this,




It is interesting that UHCC Parks Manager, Brett Latimer, states that the removal of the totara  was “outlined in the plan approved by the Council”.

I can find no reference to any removal of any totara trees from the Maidstone Park development in the District or Annual Plans.  In fact, there is no reference to the removal of any native trees in either document, that I can readily find.

The only reference to the removal of trees is unwanted exotics, such as pine trees.

From the Upper Hutt City Council Annual Plan,   2011-2012,




No mention of felling totara trees.

The District Plan, though, is quite clear on the protection of native trees,




The Council’s tree protection policy page is mysteriously unavailable to view,




Which raises some pertinent questions on this whole curious issue. Questions which I have put to Upper Hutt’s mayor, Wayne Guppy,


from:    Frank Macskasy
to:    Wayne Guppy <wayne.guppy@uhcc.govt.nz>
date:    Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM
subject:    Draft Annual Plan/Parks & Reserves/Maidstone Park

Wayne Guppy
Upper Hutt


In the recent edition of the “Upper Hutt Leader” (18 January), Rosemary McLennan reported on the felling and removal of two totara trees from Maidstone Park.  Both trees were estimated to be approximately 80 years old.

UHCC Parks Manager, Brett Latimer, stated that the removal of the totara  was “outlined in the plan approved by the Council”.

I have looked at , and can find no reference to the removal of native trees. The only reference to removal of trees is under the heading “Ongoing revegetation of Maidstone Park”, which refers to pine trees.

The removal of the totara would appear to conflict with the District Plan (2004); Subdivision and Earthworks, which states in part,

That subdivision, earthworks and vegetation removal do not adversely affect significant natural landforms, areas of significant indigenous natural vegetation or significant habitats of indigenous fauna.
Land disturbance in sensitive locations can seriously damage or denigrate the visual amenity of the environment. In the case of Upper Hutt, the eastern and western hills are an important component of the landscape and visual appeal of the City. The scarring of land, whether urban or rural, detracts from the visual quality of the City.
Land disturbance in sensitive locations can also seriously damage or destroy the ecological values of the environment.”

My questions are;

1. Is it Upper Hutt City Council policy to fell mature native trees, when they show no sign of disease?
2. What protection does UHCC give to trees on Council land, considering that trees on private land may be protected under the District Plan, Schedule of Notable Trees?
3. Can you point to where Brett Latimer’s statement, the removal of the totara  was outlined in the plan approved by the Council?
4. Was formal permission granted to remove these trees, and if so, by whom?
5. Does Council intend to remove any other native trees from Council reserves, parks, etc?
6. Will Council act to protect remaining native trees from felling?

And lastly, do you think it is appropriate that two mature native trees – totara in this case – should be destroyed to make way for artificle turf development? Does it not seem somewhat bizarre that natural, native, fauna is removed and replaced by what is, essentially, a form of plastic?

I look forward to your response.

-Frank Macskasy
“Frankly Speaking


Upon receipt of a response from the Mayor of Upper Hutt, I will update this blog-post.

However. Based purely on the story in the “Upper Hutt Leader” and information on the Upper Hutt Council’s own website, I am led to the following conclusion,

  1. The destruction of two mature totara trees – free of disease, and not an immediate threat to life, limb, or power lines – so that artificial “turf” can be laid, beggars belief. This is a form of vandalism that I had thought we had left behind.  Clean & “Green” does not mean artificial grass.
  2. The Upper Hutt City Council seems unaware (or willfully ignoring of) their own policies regarding mature native  trees.
  3. There  seems no sane purpose in planting native trees, at ratepayers’ expense,  and  as Council policy dictates – only to have  them later felled and removed because of “convenience“. It took an estimated eighty years for these magnificent trees to reach their mature state of development – and in eight hours they were destroyed.

One wonders what  is the point of the Upper Hutt City Council having a Schedule of Notable Trees, to protect trees on private properties, if Council itself is not willing to lead by example.

It will be interesting what explanation – if any – Mayor Guppy has on this issue.



Acknowledgement from Mayor, Wayne Guppy,


from:    Wayne Guppy Wayne.Guppy@uhcc.govt.nz
to:    Frank Macskasy
date:    Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 8:16 AM
subject:    RE: Draft Annual Plan/Parks & Reserves/Maidstone Park

Thank you Frank for the email.I will follow it up and get back to you shortly

Thanks Wayne

Wayne Guppy
Mayor Upper Hutt City



Thanks to Sharlene for bring this issue to my attention.



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