Tree prosecutions unwarranted

September 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Coast District Council’s prosecution of two elderly Otaki couples for trimming native was “inappropriate”, and “fell short of what was needed”, according to an independent review.

“The overall criminality was minimal,” the report, commissioned by the council from Wellington QC Richard Fowler, says.

“A mere warning would probably have been the most appropriate, or at worst an infringement notice.”

The council laid charges against Peter and Diana Standen, 77 and 74, and Keith and Lorraine McLeavey, 72 and 68, last year for modifying naturally occurring native trees on their properties. It withdrew them when an Environment Court judge dismissed charges against the McLeaveys as “trivial offending”.

This was a Council at its zealous worse. Of course they should not have been prosecuted. In fact there shouldn’t even be any restrictions on what home owners can do with trees they own on their properties – unless the trees are of outstanding heritage value.

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26 Responses to “Tree prosecutions unwarranted”

  1. Redbaiter (9,478 comments) says:

    These poor citizens in trimming their own trees were unwittingly guilty of anti-religious activity.

    That religion being the insufferably smug faith of Gaia, and its believers need to get the hell out of our government, local and central, but more importantly, out of our schools (mandated by law to be free of religion.)

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  2. labrator (1,850 comments) says:

    There should be an inquiry at that Council as to who authorised it and why. Using the vast resources and powers of the council to persecute two elderly couples is reprehensible for something so utterly trivial.

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  3. Ashley Schaeffer (508 comments) says:

    How much did the independent review cost the ratepayers? It’s only confirmed what anyone with a modicum of common sense knew already. The current Kapiti District Council lineup isn’t that much better than the last – which was terrible.

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  4. Redbaiter (9,478 comments) says:

    “There should be an inquiry at that Council as to who authorised it and why.”

    Yes councils seem to be able to constantly act in this dictatorial manner and those responsible do not suffer any apparent penalty.

    Citizens are of course free to use their vote and elect representatives who will change this.

    However it seems that what NZ citizens are fighting is a deeply entrenched bureaucracy that has endowed itself with more powers than the elected representatives.

    Our politicians don’t seem capable of changing this circumstance. The National Party for example is one of the worst in this regard and just seems to act as a rubber stamp for all kinds of bureaucratic assaults on liberty and private property.

    We really need determined and brave politicians who will take the fight to these grey cowardly unelected scum who have set themselves up as petty dictators.

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  5. Fisiani (1,047 comments) says:

    If The Greens ever get into government then no property owner will be able to trim or remove a tree. The Greens value trees , snails and worms more than people.

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  6. RRM (10,001 comments) says:

    There’s nothing at all “natural” about a native tree growing in the middle of a town.

    So Quite apart from the morality of the council telling property owners what to do, the technical objectives of what they are attempting are nonsense.

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  7. wreck1080 (3,955 comments) says:

    These council tree people are jumped up losers who get off on the power given to them via the councils.

    I had the misfortune of dealing with a couple of the local clowns a few years back. Basically they try to take away peoples property rights.

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  8. yankdownunder (36 comments) says:

    Who would have thought that trees had “indigenous rights”?

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  9. wiseowl (925 comments) says:

    It is the continual addition of stupid clauses to legislation such as the RMA and the Local Government Act that gives this power to these little pratts that hide behind council desks.

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  10. Jack5 (5,144 comments) says:

    Yankdownunder posted at 10.29:

    Who would have thought that trees had “indigenous rights”?

    Some nutters thing they do have these, YDU.

    YDU, you haven’t caught up yet with the politically correct campaign to replace the myriad interesting trees round the world with often-bland and slow growing “native” trees and shrubs.

    Perhaps the most notorious example is Christchurch. Here, there have been moves to chop down the beautiful weeping willows on the banks of the Avon River and replace them with native flax and native shrubs. The trees have special significance for locals. They reputedly stem from cuttings taken from near Napoleon’s original grave in St Helena. Ships carrying French and German migrants bound for Akaroa in the 1840s put in at the island.

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  11. lazza (382 comments) says:

    Kapiti Council exhibits many of the worst features of NZ LG bureaucracy.

    Tree Nazi’s are the least of it. Have a squizz at their financial situation … their poor governance/leadership coupled to a bloated administration is unfortunately a template for many “others”.

    Time for ratepayers to tool up for the 2016 elections and get some good people to turn it all around … as turning it around is what will be needed.

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  12. david (2,561 comments) says:

    Isn’t Kapiti the same Council that built an amazing new edifice for housing the bureaucrats at enormous expense to the ratepayers?

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  13. Reboot (101 comments) says:

    One law for all please I don’t care how old they are if the Council would be overzealous enough to prosecute a young couple then they can prosecute the elderly. Don’t blame the Council for exercising their legal authority. What I want to see is a change in the law surrounding their power, not some sympathetic story discriminating against non-elderly people. If we are against Maori getting a free pass then we ought also be against old people likewise getting the same.

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  14. Ashley Schaeffer (508 comments) says:

    david (2,554 comments) says:
    September 2nd, 2014 at 10:56 am
    Isn’t Kapiti the same Council that built an amazing new edifice for housing the bureaucrats at enormous expense to the ratepayers?

    Yes, except that they sold it as just a spot of remodelling of the existing building.

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  15. Peter (1,723 comments) says:

    Here is the council:

    http://www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/Your-Council/Elected-Members/Councillors/

    Time some of these people fronted up and explained their actions. Who was for the prosecution, and who was against it, what was their reasoning, and what actions will they be taking over similar cases in future.

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  16. peterwn (3,296 comments) says:

    I suspect the buck stops with the CEO with this one as he is the ultimate officer to decide whether to prosecute or not. It would be quite improper for the Mayor and Councillors to decide whether or not to prosecute, but they can always set guidelines for the CEO to follow.

    If I was a councillor, I would not be too inclined to support the re-appointment of the CEO for another 5 year term.

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  17. UrbanNeocolonialist (304 comments) says:

    disagree with DPF Re “heritage” trees. You should have complete say about what trees grow on your property with single exception of large dangerous trees that threaten others.

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  18. Peter (1,723 comments) says:

    If the council names a “heritage tree” on someone’s property, that might be agreeable if rates were cut on that property, in order that the tree may be kept and maintained for the community good.

    If the tree is valuable to the community, then the community should pay for its upkeep. The community wants it both ways. They want to look at the nice tree, but they want someone else to pay for it.

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  19. Fletch (6,479 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, the Greens are nailing their billboards to trees :lol:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152616648335042&set=a.200087325041.169365.735925041&type=1&theater

    Isn’t that kind of self-defeating?

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  20. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    YDU, you haven’t caught up yet with the politically correct campaign to replace the myriad interesting trees round the world with often-bland and slow growing “native” trees and shrubs.

    The preservationist Nazis are a particularly difficult and stubborn bunch alright. We actually have some wonderful native trees that grow very well in an urban environment, but often these extremists scuttle better native selection because of a religious adherence to “ecosourcing” or only planting scrub or less attractive species that may be technically native to the area, but look like crap fueling the “natives are shit” attitude.

    Perhaps the most notorious example is Christchurch. Here, there have been moves to chop down the beautiful weeping willows on the banks of the Avon River and replace them with native flax and native shrubs. The trees have special significance for locals. They reputedly stem from cuttings taken from near Napoleon’s original grave in St Helena. Ships carrying French and German migrants bound for Akaroa in the 1840s put in at the island.

    I completely agree, it is ideologically driven madness to remove the weeping willows from the Avon. I have no problem with certain areas being set aside for native revegetation, and have been involved in such things, but the purists are just a pain in the arse and end up screwing it up for everybody.

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  21. Odakyu-sen (728 comments) says:

    Trees along rivers or streets are now political tools.

    Wherever possible, existing non-native trees will be replaced with native flora. In new developments, the planting of non-native species “ist verboten.”

    At all opportunities, the majority of users must be made to feel that their cultural origins (be they European or Asian) are of secondary importance.

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  22. peterwn (3,296 comments) says:

    There was a case years ago when a Town Clerk (ie CEO) did not prosecute when he ought to have. A City Solicitor owned some investment flats and the Building Inspectors required upgrading work. It never happened despite repeated promptings and the Chief Building Inspector was stymied as he relied on the City Solicitor to mount prosecutions. The Chief Building Inspector sought help from the TC who told the Chief Building Inspector to sort it out with the City Solicitor. It came to a head at the time of local body re-organisation and was instrumental in the council not considering the former TC for the new CEO role.

    The Town Clerk should have authorised the Chief Building Inspector to engage a law firm to prosecute the City Solicitor. It had got well beyond warnings.

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  23. kowtow (8,712 comments) says:

    “Fisiani (995 comments) says:
    September 2nd, 2014 at 10:20 am
    If The Greens ever get into government then no property owner will be able to trim or remove a tree. The Greens value trees , snails and worms more than people.”

    Fis, the Greens are not in power.National are and yet owners of private property are being dictated to up and down this country on what they can and can’t do with their own property.And as this and other cases hae shown innocent people are being persecuted ,prosecuted and criminalised ,under a National government.

    It’s not good enough to say oh look out for the Greens. Under National all sorts of loon ,progressive shit has pased. Smacking,marriage,apartheid,failure to roll back middle class welfare etc etc

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  24. Paulus (2,656 comments) says:

    In Local Government the Elected Councillors are elected every three years, and change regularly, and the Councillors are entirely captive to the Council Executive.
    The Executive are invariably driven by small groupings of vested interests, e.g. developers, landowners for development, builders etc. These people continually lobby Council vested interest executives, and what the hell has a Councillor got to do with what is done in the office behind their backs, and is shuffled into the 10 year plans.

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  25. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    Labour is promising to bring back the tree protection rules in its environment policy

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  26. MH (809 comments) says:

    I enjoy the erosion caused by developers destroying trees on cliff edges. What do they expect? A better view. Some can’t tell the difference between a native and an exotic nor judge the age of some great trees, they have no empathy with what they have inherited. The Council intervenes obsessively over foreign muck and uses height and diameter to preserve trees purely because they are there.We had a Himalayan Cedar all lined up for the chop, but then Sir Ed died and that was the end of that, but downing all trees is not good either.

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  27. freethinker (694 comments) says:

    Perhaps its time for independent councilors to establish a revenge & retribution tribunal to deal with arseholes on their staff with punishment being restricted to having the offending staff billboarded wearing a dunces cap or a clowns garb.

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