Whose problem is privet anyway?

Seven years ago, Janice Hamilton could look out of her kitchen window to a stunning view of the harbour and Waiuku Township. Now, it is all blocked by mature privet trees that no one is wanting to do anything about.

Janice’s property is backed onto the Racecourse Road Reserve, which has been confirmed as Auckland Council land.

“I have complained countless times, to the point where I have now given up.”

Over the years, Janice has contacted the Local Board and Auckland Council with regards to the pest plant, and while she says a representative has always come out to inspect the privet, nothing has been done about it.

 “The last time someone came out to inspect it, I was told that Council would have to apply for extra funding to have the privet removed, as there is only so much allocated for the reserve. I guess they would have to dip into the greater ‘pool’ for Auckland and it would not be deemed as important.”

Instead, the plant has continued to thrive and contribute to her health problems over the summer period.

“It really irritates my hayfever, to the extent that I have ulcers in my nose and regular bleeds from blowing it all the time. I can’t imagine how those in the rest home get on.”

The privet just doesn’t stop in front of her house. Upon further investigation, the plants have grown all throughout the reserve, along with blackberry and gorse.

Janice’s last call that she made through to Council was nearly 12 months ago and she says she is tired of ‘hitting her head against the brick wall.’

“I feel like I just get passed around and no one is willing to take this plant seriously. It’s hypocrisy really, as landowners are asked remove the plant from their property, yet, Council won’t remove it from their land. I am even tempted to get a quote to see how much it will cost to have them removed.”

The Post contacted Auckland Council with regards to the privet on Racecourse Road Reserve and raised the question that with it being regarded as pest plant, especially with the negative effects it has on native plant life and public health have been identified, why hasn’t action been taken against it?

Agnes McCormack, Auckland Council’s Head of Operational Management and Maintenance, said that council will look at developing a plan for the removal of the plants in Racecourse Road Reserve.

“Privet, blackberry and gorse are listed as surveillance pest plants in the Auckland Regional Pest Management Strategy, which sets out the council’s priorities and goals for managing animal and plant pests in Auckland. Landowners and occupiers are encouraged to protect the environment by removing these species from their properties,” says Agnes McCormack.

“In public areas of high conservation value or where there is serious threat, the council will remove pest plants. Budget availability is always a consideration, but the council will look at Racecourse Reserve in Waiuku to see if a plan can be developed to remove the plant pests.”

The Post asked if there has been a time frame set on when the suggested plan would be confirmed, and if a Council representative would be viewing the reserve in the near future. At the time of going to print, no response had been received.

Do you think privet should be classed as a noxious weed? We are interested in hearing your response. Email emma@thepost.nz



Janice Hamilton stands in front of the problem privet bushes that are located on Auckland Council land at the back of her property.