Towering trees ‘depressing’ Harewood residents

Harewood resident Graeme Barber is upset large 15m oak trees completely shade his home.

When six oak trees were planted on the boundary of Graeme and Diane Barber’s Harewood property 34 years ago, they were told by the reserve developer, “it won’t affect you.”

Now, the trees in Pasadena Reserve are 16m tall, the equivalent height of a five-storey building, with a 15m spread.

For more than 10 years, Mr Barber has expressed concern to city council about the trees, which significantly shade at least two properties for about five or six months per year.

Now, he has approached the Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board with concerns about his neighbourhood’s demeanour and wellness.

“These trees are depressing for us due to the shading and litter over many months of the year. Four neighbours . . . have to cope with copious quantities of leaves, acorns and seedlings generated by these oaks.”

However, city council staff have told Mr Barber that the trees are “perfectly healthy” but he believes they need to look at the bigger picture.

Mr Barber said the reserve department has a strong priority to protect trees.

“I’m dealing with people who are placing trees in higher priority than people . . . yes, that’s their job and no one wants to see healthy trees cut down but when they’re the height of a five-level building, there is a problem.”

Pasadena Pl resident Inez Stevens purchased her home 12 years ago, when the trees were much smaller, she said.

Now, the 91-year-old said she has spent hundreds of dollars paying a gardener to deal with the leaves and someone else to clear her gutters.

She fears for her health and is afraid she may roll or break an ankle, due to the acorns littered on her property.

Following a complaint to council last year regarding the continual noise of acorns landing on their roof, contractors removed 5m branches overhanging onto their property.

In his recent submission to the community board, Mr Barber asked when the rights and wellbeing of people over shadow the rights of healthy trees.

“That wrong decision needs to be corrected by the removal of these six trees. Something that’s fit with context . . . the council staff I have spoken to and the community board agreed that trees like that wouldn’t be planted in a reserve of this size these days,” he said.

City council acting manager operations Ryan Rolston said council now has a set of guidelines in its infrastructure design standards, which assist in tree selection.

“It is unlikely council would introduce this species of oak presently unless requested by residents.”

Mr Rolston said the trees are healthy and protected by the Christchurch District Plan.

“Consequently, council staff have no reason to pursue their removal.”


  1. Legally these trees are a nuisance to the land owners and. Thus should be removed at council expense
    Few points:
    1. The excessive shade causes loss of ability to utilize the land e.g. gardening and recreation. This could in turn lead to a vitamin D deficiency which can make you depressed, lethargic and frail.
    2. The acorns are a definite hazard to residents as pointed out in article, not just potential broken ankle though, could be leg or hip!
    3. The abundance of fallen leaves are causing maintenance issues. The costs of clean up should be covered by the reserves owners.
    4. What about the root system? Trees this big are likely to impacting the surrounding ground causing uneven levels or damage to fences and drains.

  2. We have an issue with trees at Condell Village that stop all sun from appearing in the winter season from the units here. I am not sure what they are, they are definitely not attractive possibly somekind of fir tree. Every year they grow taller and taller they are protected by the council. If there should be a storm and they came down I would hate to think of the consequences. There was a write-up in the Nor’West News on July 24 about tree issues I realise that was a month ago, meant to write something sooner.