Complaints over council mowing cuts

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Friends of McKenzie Reserve has complained that tracks are almost disappearing in long grass now that Auckland Council has cut back its mowing services.
Representatives of the community group made a plea at Waiheke Local Board’s last meeting for monthly mowing to be restored in the Enclosure Bay reserve.
Friends of the reserve member Niki Schuck said the council has halved its mowing service, coming once every two months over the summer.
The entrance to the park looks “uninviting” with the unmown grass, some plants are being smothered, and some tracks have been completely left out of the council’s mowing regime.
“Tracks in some areas have become quite overgrown so you can’t really see it is a trail.
“We started bumping into tourists and other people using the reserve and there started to be complaints that the reserve was looking unloved and unkempt,” said Ms Schuck.
Hearing such comments was “tough” given that local volunteers have given about 500 hours in the past year, turning out regularly to help remove honeysuckle, ginger, gorse and other invasive weeds from the reserve.
The council’s Waiheke parks advisor, Gary Wilton, said the council had decided to cut costs by using herbicide spray rather than manual weed control in all parks in the region, so savings had to be found to offset the cost of maintaining island parks without chemical spraying.
Less frequent mowing has been no problem in most areas but concerns had been noted at McKenzie Reserve.
Mr Wilton told the group that his team had already started arranging with the council for the reserve to be mown 12 times a year.
Since 2004, Friends of McKenzie Reserve has planted 13,258 trees, created 2,270 metres of walking tracks and developed a “hub” in the reserve.
These projects have been funded by the council, local board, Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust and other groups.
The McKenzie Reserve volunteers hope to construct a lookout platform and toilets over the next few years. • Rose Davis

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