The debate over the Pillans Jacaranda

The tree of the south side of the house. Photo: Google Maps

The Websters bought the property at 144 Pillans Road, in Tauranga, last year, moved in - and now they want the city council to cut down the Jacaranda tree directly outside the house.

But the mature jacaranda directly on the south side of David and Helen Webster’s home is a remnant from the original farmhouse/orchard plantings on the street, and pre-dates the area’s urban development.

The historical connection was raised at the city council Environment Committee last week by lawyer Nick Ellsmore, acting for the decendants of the planters of the jacaranda trees in Pillans Point.

The Websters first had the council prune the tree, after saying they were disappointed at the significant volume of rubbish dropped from the tree across the front of their home and driveway.

They weren’t satisfied with the pruning and offered to fell the tree at their cost and replace it with a kauri.

Council staff refused the offer because the jacaranda isn’t disrupting services or the health of residents. It doesn’t meet the criteria.

Neighbours were polled next. A council survey had six neighbours opposed to removing the tree and 18 who had no objection. The Websters’ petition has a dozen neighbours who say they have no objection to the jacaranda getting the chop.

The issue came before the city council Environment Committee this week, for councillors to make a decision, but it became clear the Websters had not seen the committee agenda which laid out all the options available. Committee chair Steve Morris moved the issue be set aside until the Websters have had time to consider and consult.

Lawyer Nick Elsmor,e on behalf of Kathryn and Fraser Lellman, argued for the retention of the tree, saying the historical context is an important part of the committee’s deliberations.

“It’s Important in a growing town like Tauranga that we retain our historical connections,” says Nick.

He argued against replacing the jacaranda with another tree saying a new tree won’t replace a 70 year old tree.

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