Source: Far North District Council
A unique organic product created by a New Zealand plant and soil nutritionist may have saved four Opito Bay pōhutukawa trees illegally poisoned late last year.
In November, an arborist contracted by the Far North District Council, confirmed that holes had been drilled into the root systems of four ailing pōhutukawa on a reserve at Opito Bay near Kerikeri. The 15-metre trees were losing foliage and the arborist predicted they would die. Several dead branches were removed for safety reasons.
Just four months after the attack, the much-loved, beach-side, shade trees are displaying strong signs of life with new leaves and shoots sprouting from limbs previously thought to be dead.
The dramatic reversal is due to technology developed by Phillip Walesby, owner of the Scriptfert Group. The Bay of Islands resident says he immediately thought his products would help the Opito Bay trees after reading news reports about their poisoning.
“I went out to Opito Bay to look at the damage. After talking to locals, I was put in touch with the Far North District Council and was contacted by the arborist. I offered my help and agreed to donate the product if they supplied the labour to apply it.”
The first phase of the treatment saw a soil acidity regulator applied around the base of the trees. Then, two weeks later, the Scriptfert product was sprayed onto the foliage of the 50-year-old pōhutukawa.
Mr Walesby says it was the first time the compound had been applied to pōhutukawa trees. “I’m really impressed at how well they have responded with leaf colour and new growth. Even the tree most badly affected by the poison is showing strong signs of returning to health with multiple new shoots sprouting in a very short timeframe. ”
General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch, says Opito Bay residents were understandably outraged someone had attacked the four trees last year. “These trees were planted by locals and are much-valued for the shade they provide on one of Kerikeri’s few swimming beaches. Unfortunately, someone decided that their needs were more important than anyone else. We are very grateful to Phillip and thrilled his treatment has provided new hope for these trees.”
Mr Finch says the Council has improved surveillance at the reserve and is asking local residents to be vigilant for suspicious activity. “All trees on public reserves are protected by the Reserves Act and the Resource Management Act. We will prosecute anyone caught damaging the trees on this reserve or other reserves in the District.
Anyone with information that may help identify those responsible for poisoning the Opito Bay trees should contact Kerikeri Police on (09) 407 9211, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.