Masterton District Council [MDC] staff are “fed-up” with ongoing plant thefts from Queen Elizabeth Park – and should it continue, stolen greenery may no longer be replaced.
Over the past month, 28 lavender plants have been stolen from the park’s Hosking Garden, which is designed to be a drought-resistant, aromatic space through its chosen species.
During Wednesday night, 12 plants were taken from the garden at the Pownall Gates, yet another lavender from the Hosking Garden, and 20 plants from the sloping garden nearby.
A council spokesperson said the inner area in the garden, which features herbs, had also been “devastated”.
MDC community facilities and activities manager Corin Haines said that due to the sheer number of similar plants that are being targeted in such a short amount of time, it does not appear they were being used for home gardens.
“We can only speculate, but it seems likely that these plants are being sold,” Haines said.
“I would encourage buyers at markets or online to ask where the plants they are buying have been sourced from.
“They could actually be paying for them twice – the council replaces stolen plants, and that is a cost paid for by ratepayers.”
“Queen Elizabeth Park and our other gardens are spaces for everyone to enjoy,” Haines said.
“They are not for the use of thieves looking to make a buck at the expense of our community.”
The thefts have been reported to police, but Haines said if the plant pilfering continues, residents will start to notice gaps in council gardens.
“We will not be replacing plants simply for thieves to restock their supplies,” Haines said.
“The quality of our gardens is well known to locals and visitors, but we won’t continue to replace plants only for them to be taken again.
“We need the community’s help in stopping this outrageous behaviour. Anything suspicious in our parks should be reported to police.”
The council spokesperson estimated the total cost of replacing the plants removed from Hosking Garden was $1500.
They emphasised Haine’s point that while it is just speculation at this point that the plants are being taken for commercial purposes, it seems likely.
“We have not identified any suspicious sales, but the number of plants involved would indicate they were either destined for sale or a significant landscaping project,” the spokesperson said.
“The plants are being replaced now, but if thefts continue, consideration will have to be given to not replacing stolen plants.”
Another recently stolen plant was a two-metre-tall magnolia tree, the spokesperson noted.
“It’s a significant plant that would require a ute or a trailer to move if it were to survive.”
People are encouraged to report any suspicious activity observed in council gardens to police.