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Lynette Bates' grandmother had a house close to where Hampden-Palmerston Rd (State Highway 1) passes the northern end of Shag Point. She grew up at the beach there, and has returned many times as an adult.
Because the site had been "overgrown with blackberry", she and her husband John spent hours clearing the area and had planted a row of non-native "shelter belt trees" as well as ake ake, rata and kowhai.After attending her cousin's funeral nearby, she stopped into the spot for the first time this winter and 17 trees, up to 180cm tall, and the nets and stakes that were protecting them, were gone - "stolen".
"It was just soul-destroying, because we had spent so many hours up here just volunteering, doing it all, and trying to make it nice. And that someone could just rip it out in one fell swoop was just overwhelming, really.
"I'm probably never going to find them, but someone must know where they've gone, because you don't take that many trees home and just plant them in the front yard with nobody noticing."
She did not plan to fund a replanting with her pension.
"If somebody had some spare natives, I'd certainly put them in."
A spokeswoman for the NZ Transport Agency, which owns the land, said the plants were not removed by the agency.