Residents in an Auckland seaside community fear one of their own could be responsible for poisoning three pohutukawa trees.
The Arkles Bay homeowners on the North Shore suspect someone wanting a better sea view, could be the culprit.
John Lambert noticed something was wrong with the pohutukawa trees during his morning walk on the beach.
"The leaves were all falling off and they were starting to turn yellow. So I had a closer look and noticed the trees had been hacked with an axe," he told 1 NEWS.
A council arborist confirmed someone had drilled holes into the trunks and filled them with chemical poison, before sealing them with brown putty.
"Its just a total act of terrible vandalism as far as we're all concerned," Mr Lambert said.
Grant White's family has lived there for 50 years and he says the trees were planted for a very special reason.
"Mr Banertine, many years ago his young son died of cancer when he was about 10 years old. And in commemoration of him, he planted the beachfront with pohutukawas, Mr White said.
Weedkiller was also sprinkled on the trees' roots.
Resident Amy Galvin says a dog could have eaten the poison "which is most heartbreaking to me, 'cause so many people walk their dog on this beach".
Adding to the heartbreak, fears it could be an inside job.
"Someone didn't like their view being spoilt i would say," Mr White said.
Mr Lambert said: "They weren't blocking people's views or any of these things. And the fact that it's three trees in a row, obviously it was a very deliberate thing."
The council has applied mulch to the trees and is monitoring them with the hope they will recover. But if they die new ones will be planted next year.
The maximum penalty for the offence is two years in jail or a $300,000 fine.
A local gardener, Michael Titchener said one of the trees has still got a bit of growth left, "but it'll all die".
Three Kiwi Christmas trees are unlikely to bloom come December.