Seven pōhutukawa turning brown on Auckland's North Shore

A community on Auckland's North Shore is outraged over the suspected poisoning of several pōhutukawa trees.

The trees on the Birkenhead Point coastline are protected under the council's unitary plan and locals are concerned their demise could compromise the cliff side.

At this time of year, this coastal view should be a riot of green and red, instead some pōhutukawa trees have turned an ugly brown.

Drilled holes.
Drilled holes. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Probably would have been 10 weeks ago that we first noticed it," said resident Geordie Lindsay-Russell.

Residents saw the trees' browning leaves and decided to take a closer look - they discovered several drilled holes in the trees' trunks.

"The holes are about an inch wide, several holes in the same trunk and some of them are filled with some sort of liquid," said Mr Lindsay-Russell.

Holes in the truck of a pohutukawa.
Holes in the truck of a pohutukawa. Photo credit: Newshub.

He was among the first people to inspect the holes and believes some sort of chemical was poured into them.

Seven trees have been affected and the surrounding grass was also killed off.

Creating an eyesore isn't the only concern - the area around here is also prone to slips.

"The pōhutukawa are also grounding that cliff and sheltering it from a lot of the wind," Mr Lindsay-Russell said.

"South-westerlies quite often blow through here, so once those tree-root systems die, then it's a bit of a concern for future residents."

Neighbours say developers bought the section in April and were told of plans to build 10 apartments on the site.

The buyers told Newshub they were only alerted to the trees' condition last week and were just as shocked as the locals.

Seven pōhutukawa turning brown on Auckland's North Shore
Photo credit: Newshub.

They've filed a report with police, who are now investigating.

Neighbours say more needs to be done and have launched an online petition.

"I think the council seems to be asleep at the wheel," said resident Richard Burke. "They're not reacting fast enough."

It's still not known who's responsible for tampering with the trees, but locals want them held to account.

Seven pōhutukawa turning brown on Auckland's North Shore
Photo credit: Newshub.

"We couldn't say who it is, categorically, but it would point to someone who is going to gain out of that, when you start looking at motivations for doing this kind of thing," said Mr Burke.

Auckland Council is investigating the incident, and says whoever is responsible could face prosecution and a fine of up to $600,000.