Thames-Coromandel District Council has released a statement saying that investigations into unauthorised tree removal on Council road reserve next to the Otama Recreation Reserve has concluded that no legal proceedings can be brought against any parties. The investigation has taken a long time due to many factors, including COVID-19 and staff availability, but also access to information at relevant points in time.
“We know that this matter has been a difficult one and taken time to address with a variety of groups and agencies involved, and we are also extremely unhappy with the outcome, which is something out of Council’s control,” the statement said. “Moving forward, our Council will continue to engage with Ngāti Hei and the Department of Conservation to develop a basic set of principles to heal this site. Once these principles are agreed, the three parties led by DOC will engage with the wider community.”
In late July last year, arborist work was undertaken at the reserve that raised concerns among residents regarding what was seen as unauthorised trimming and cutting down of native trees. Strong views were expressed. “The work done (on the trees) was not only illegal but unconscionable,” one Otama beach resident was quoted in The Informer of 27 July 2021. “I’m strongly of the view that what was done was a breach of the Reserves Act.”