Auckland mansion owner fined $52k for felling 'notable' pōhutukawa

Source: 1News

An Auckland man has been fined $52,500 for cutting down a "notable pōhutukawa" on his multi-million dollar Takapuna property.

The stump of the felled pōhutukawa.

Auckland Council estimates Cole Arnott​'s Park Avenue property has a value of more than $16 million.

Arnott's fine was for breaching the Resource Management Act, the council said in a statement today, adding he'd had dealings with them in the past and would have known he needed a resource consent for the pōhutukawa's felling.

Judge Melinda Dickey said: "The most egregious fact of all [was], well before the tree was cut to the point of no return, Mr Arnott agreed with council officers he would stop work. Yet, not more than two hours later, he went on to cut down the rest of the tree.

"I view that breach of his word as most serious indeed."

Arnott hired contractors to remove the tree in November 2020, and council officers said 25% of the tree was already cut down by the time they were alerted and responded to a complaint about the felling.

The officers instructed that work cease until a resource consent was obtained, but later that day, the original complainant told the council that work had recommenced, the council said.

Auckland Council's Team Leader Investigations, David Pawson said "this serves as a reminder the rules are there for a good reason".

Cole Arnott has been fined more than $50,000 over the incident.

"If anyone is in doubt, before removing a tree, talk to us and we'll advise whether approval is needed or not.

"Or if you want to find out if a tree is protected, we can help."

The two contractors hired for the removal each face one charge related to the incident.