A prominent Mount Maunganui pohutukawa tree will be cut down because its roots are damaging water pipes and a wall.
The city council decided unanimously to fell the roadside tree outside the house at 214 Oceanbeach Rd owned by Paul and Pam Ryan.
The Ryans approached council aborist Richard Conning in May about a problem with their water meter. The high reading was traced to the roots of the 35-year-old tree damaging their water pipe.
But Mr Conning's conclusion that the tree should go prompted nearby residents to protest.
Graeme Horsley led a petition signed by 19 residents that the pohutukawa was not only a prominent tree but a landmark on Oceanbeach Rd. He said the council had regularly pruned and maintained it.
"This is a significant native tree that has been growing here for longer than any of the houses which surround it," he said.
The council's decision was guided by the arborist's report which said that a significant amount of root pruning would be needed to allow a permanent repair to the water supply.\
The repairs needed to the footpath would cause further root damage with the necessity for regular root pruning every two to three years further impacting on the tree's long-term health.
Mount councillor Wayne Moultrie asked Mr Horsley whether he was aware that the Ryans had spent $10,000 fixing the damage caused by the roots. Mr Horsley responded that he was aware of the problems but not the cost.
Mr Ryan said safety was another issue with people walking off the footpath and onto the road to get around the tree.
"We love the aesthetics of the tree, but serious damage has been done."
The Ryans have had to call in plumbers three times in their four years living at the property because of problems caused by the roots. He had also spent $8000 to $10,000 fixing the fence around the tree and less than a year later the fence had another split through it.
Mr Ryan said he intended to seek compensation for ongoing costs because they could not continue to carry the expense.
Councillor Terry Molloy, who called himself the council's remaining tree hugger, said people were constantly coming in saying how much they loved trees but could the council please cut this one down.
"I wonder where we will end up," he said.
However Cr Molloy said he reluctantly supported felling the pohutukawa because of the damage it was causing.
Councillor Larry Baldock said pohutukawa were not appropriate street trees but despite this more were planned to be planted along Oceanbeach Rd. "This is what the result will be in 30 to 40 years' time."