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Campbell Live

Council sour over unlawful lemon trees

Monday 21 Jan 2013 3:34 p.m.

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Di Celliers is usually a God-fearing, law-abiding lady.

But for the past six months, the North Shore gardener has been forced to go around the law – and underground.

She calls it “guerrilla gardening” and, put simply, it means; “Don’t ask for permission, because you’re not going to get it anyway”.

Two lemon trees planted in Ms Cellier’s cul-de-sac are the subject of a six-month bureaucratic wrangle.

Planted last July to provide fruit for her community, Ms Celliers decided to ask for retrospective consent from Auckland Council.

“They said they would fine you $1000, plus $50 a day that it’s encroaching on their land.”

Added up, for two trees over six months, that’s a total of more than $7000.

Auckland Transport controls the encroachment and, even though it has seen fit to plant it’s own trees on the traffic island, she was told in an email the council would need $1000 per plant to assess whether they can stay.

“Quite frankly, if you’re doing something like growing fruit in your community, there should be no charge,” she says.

And her neighbours agree.

“It’s absolute madness – the council should be grateful that someone wants to take the trouble to make the place better,” says Neil Allinson.

Even Supercity Mayor Len Brown has got involved, saying:

“I can only agree the response to your query has not been appropriate. However, I think this may be because lines of community have been a little crossed”.

But it wasn’t enough to change Auckland Transport’s stance.

Ms Cellier’s message to the Auckland City Council is simple: “Lighten up”.

“Go and have a look what’s happening in other cities and towns around New Zealand and the world – they’re all planting fruit trees on the roadsides.”

Watch the video for Rebecca Wright’s full report



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