Fines and community service for breaches by developers embraced by local board

Publish Date : 02 May 2024
Old tree

A developer hit with a $96,000 fine for breaching the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) has been welcomed by Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board.  

Auckland Council received favourable decisions in three Auckland District Court prosecutions where companies or individuals breached the RMA to the detriment of the environment.

Ōtara-Papatoetoe local board stands behind the decision to enforce substantial fines and community service on developers found in breach of the regulations of the RMA.

Board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia says, “Local boards make decisions on local matters such as caring for the environment and preserving heritage. This board will make sure development happens sustainably, so it doesn’t compromise the needs of our community or the environment.”

In one of the cases, the alteration to a notable tree, a Norfolk Pine in St George Street, Papatoetoe by a developer in the immediate aftermath of the tornado in June 2021, resulted in the tree having to be felled.

“Many residents were shocked to see it chopped down despite its protections. These penalties by the District Court signifies the seriousness for developers attempting to cut corners,” says Apulu.

Z Ali Investments Limited and Mr Zulfika Ali were fined a total of $96,000. In addition, a professional tree contractor of 15 years’ experience, Mr Kumar, carried out the felling after being instructed to by Mr Ali and being told the tree was not protected, was found guilty on one charge; he is awaiting sentence.

The Ōtara-Papatoetoe area has the second lowest tree canopy cover in Tāmaki Makaurau, with only nine per cent coverage. This is significantly below the urban Auckland average of 18 per cent.

“The local board provided views against the developer’s actions at the time, and many locals also expressed outrage at his actions. The tree held significance to the Papatoetoe landscape and was etched in the collective memory of residents. It was on a corner site of a well-known homestead.
“It's not only about felling a protected tree but also about a community recovering from adverse weather events and what it meant for Papatoetoe locals.

“We agree with Judge Tepania that a natural disaster is not an opportunity to commit offences. If unsure, assistance is readily available, like using the council's Unitary Plan (GIS) viewer to determine if a tree is notable or located in a significant ecological area (indicating it has an additional level of protection)”, says Apulu.

Here is the media release detailing other cases. To check if your tree is protected or for more details go here.

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