Man fined for felling tree on council land
A man who cut down a tree on council land in Taupō has been convicted and fined at Taupō District Court this week.
Taupō District Council chief executive Gareth Green said the conviction served as a warning to anyone considering illegally damaging trees on council land, which was in breach of Council’s Reserves and Public Places Bylaw and carried a maximum fine of $20,000 under the Local Government Act.
Auckland man Alex Ha felled a mature silver birch tree at the bottom of Taharepa Road in July last year and was seen by members of the community. He was spoken to by council staff and later charged.
Ha was fined $1500 with leniency given due to being a first-time offender, his admission of guilt and his cooperation with council staff following the offending. However, the judge also took into consideration that it was a premeditated event, with Ha taking a chainsaw and trailer to the site to dispose of the tree. The judge ordered Ha pay $2,780.40 in reparation for the value of the tree, the cost of replacing it and the clean-up costs. The council will receive the full reparation amount and 90 per cent of the fine.
Mr Green said it was disappointing Ha had felled the tree which was one of just a few mature trees in the immediate area.
“Our district is known for its beautiful greenery and it’s a real shame when anyone damages our trees – they’re part of what makes this place special,” he said. “Mr Ha has no doubt learned a valuable lesson here and this conviction serves as a warning to others who may be considering anything similar.”
The conviction comes after Mayor David Trewavas issued a warning in August last year there would be zero tolerance for tree vandalism. He called the attacks disappointing and destructive and said when vandalism occurred, council would do everything it could to find the culprits and pursue all avenues available to hold them to account.