Evidence of Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng on behalf of Save Our Kauri Trust

We are pleased to have been given permission to share this important evidence from an Associate Professor at University of Auckland. This was given in relation to the proposed water treatment plant on protected land in Titirangi.

Extremely useful reading for all interested in our ngahere and preservation of forests:

The original PDF document is here.

The complete extracted text follows:



of an application for regional resource consents and a land use consent under the Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 (NES Soil) in fulfilment of section 88 of the RMA.


Qualifications and experience
  1. I am a plant eco-physiologist and eco-hydrologist and am an Associate Professor at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland. I measure and model carbon and water cycling in forests and am particularly interested in the effects of global change processes (like climate change and land use change) on forests and other vegetation.
  2. I received my PhD in 2003 from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). I worked at UTS for seven years as a research fellow researching water use of vegetation in several research groups including the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training. I have published 46 peer-reviewed journal articles and I have written nine technical reports.
  3. Since moving to New Zealand in 2010, I have been working on the physiology of kauri. In 2012, I received a Marsden Fund Fast-Start grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand to study the water use patterns of these iconic trees. In 2014, I was awarded the Early Career Research Excellence Award at the University of Auckland and in 2015, I was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship by the Royal Society of New Zealand.
    1. I have been asked by Save Our Kauri Trust to provide an assessment of the impact of the proposed water treatment plant on protected land bordered by Woodlands Park Rd, Manuka Rd Titirangi.
    2. I advise that I have read the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses contained in the Environment Court Practice Note 2014 and have complied with it in preparing this evidence. I confirm that the issues addressed in this evidence are within my area of expertise and I have not omitted material facts known to me that might alter or detract from my evidence.
    3. In this document, I outline the value of the established ecosystems as an essential part of the landscape and a valuable carbon store.
      Value of established forest ecosystems
    4. Generally, forests provide us with many goods and services that support human life. Forest products include wood and gum (these are often referred to as ecosystem goods). The value of these goods can be easily determined based on market prices.
    5. Ecosystem services are more difficult to value because they are less tangible. Carbon uptake and storage is a good example of a forest ecosystem service. Forests absorb CO2 as they grow and trees store this carbon in their stems, branches, leaves and roots. Forests also play an important role in the water cycle as transpiration is one of the major pathways through which water returns to the atmosphere after rain. Trees are important for flood mitigation because they collect rainfall on their leaves and buffer water flow through the landscape. Tree roots are also important for binding the soil and preventing erosion.
    6. Kauri forests are particularly valuable because they are amongst the most carbon dense forests in the world. A single tree can store vast amounts of carbon and will also use large volumes of water each year.
    7. The trees within the proposed area to be felled are not particularly large but as there are hundreds of trees to be removed, collectively their carbon storage is considerable. Under a climate emergency, all effort should be made to protect established forests for the rich carbon reserves they store both above and below ground.
      1. There are several kauri trees of a relatively young age at the site but as kauridieback is killing hundreds of trees, all individuals should be protected because we don’t know which tree will be the future Tāne Mahuta centuries from now. Ongoing work by one of my PhD students is just beginning to unravel the physiological responses of kauri to kauri dieback disease. Disturbance of the site will likely spread the pathogen due to soil movement by euqipment and hydrological changes due to removal of trees. Established canopy and root systems provide protection of the soil by reducing water reaching the understorey and binding the soil as described below.
      2. During a rainfall event, a large canopy of leaves will capture water until the leaf surfaces have been saturated. This process is known as ‘wetting up’ and it reduces the amount of water reaching the ground because the water stays on the leaves until it evaporates once the rain has cleared. A closed canopy is likely to have a leaf area of 3-4 m of leaves per unit of ground so this surface area has a significant effect on the water cycle.
      3. Detailed measurements of rainfall redistribution in kauri forest by Sangster (1986, unpublished MSc thesis, University of Auckland) showed interception loss was 44% of incoming rainfall. This is consistent with other similar forest types around the world and indicates that only 56% of rainfall reaches the forest floor. Removal of trees therefore increases water input onto the land surface and increases water logging and runoff. More runoff can mean more erosion and more frequent and severe floods in addition to movement of soil, potentially spreading kauri dieback.
      4. Tree roots are also important for binding soil. Where there is complicated topography, established trees are important for stabilisation of any slopes. As a rule of thumb, a tree stores half its biomass above ground and the other half below ground so the root systems of the vegetation proposed to be removed would be very large.
        1. There are several notable larger kauri in the vicinity of the area proposed to be cleared. We are just learning how trees interact below ground through the rhizosphere. In addition to my concerns about soil movement due to earth work equipment and water flow, I am also concerned that the root systems of these trees will be adversely impacted by the vegetation removal. Significant trees need substantial buffers for best protection.
        2. Any proposed biodiversity offset will not be a meaningful replacement in a changing climate. Established forests are better placed to survive drought because they have deep root systems to access deep water stores. Seedlings and saplings do not have adequate root structures to allow them to survive dry periods. Under the current drought conditions, we are seeing restorations plantings completely fail across the city because the deveoping soil moisture deficit is killing sensitive seedlings. As droughts are predicted to become more frequent and severe, we cannot predict if on offset planting will survive to a mature age. Established forest has never been more valuable for the carbon it stores, the water it regulates and it’s ability to survive drought.


Tūpuna Maunga Non-notified Consents and Pending

This page leads to copies of consent applications filed by Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) obtained through LGOIMA requests.

Note some of the reports have been redacted. Some of the information hidden may comply with some provisions of Section 7 of the LGOIMA 1987, some don’t. For example, what reason could there be for redacting the herpetology (study of amphibians and reptiles)? How could a report on skinks etc. be prejudicial to either individual privacy, commercial interests, in-confidence communication, or reveal free and frank discussion, breach legal privilege or interfere with Council’s negotiation?

Here they are documents for each of the consents that have been supplied. For each, consent, there are multiple links to appendices (apart from Maungawhau – just one). All, we believe in good faith to be freely downloadable as pdf or view on your browser without having to download, as these are public documents.

(Click on consent reference number for the page. Those without consent code are – as of end December 2019 – we believe – under review.)

Maungarei/Mt Wellington LUC60311082 LUC60311082A
Te Pane o Mataaoho/Te Ara Pueru/Māngere Mountain LUC60326774
Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain LUC 60331431
Ōwairaka/Mt Albert LUC60328646
Maungawhau/ Mt Eden LUC/2017/335
Maungakiekie TRE60338771
Big King Te Tātua a Riukuita
Mt Richmond Ōtāhuhu/Mt Richmond
Mt Roskill Puketāpapa – Pukewīwī/Mount Roskill

Any questions? Please leave a comment below.

Submission to Tūpuna Maunga Authority : August 2019

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) is seeking ‘public input’ about its future plans for Auckland’s Tūpuna Maunga, ancestral mountains/volcanic cones.

Only 12 days in which to give ‘public input’ to two substantial documents over 100 pages ? There will be no in-person hearings. All written feedback will be considered by TMA and?

Exactly what is being asked here? What is the envisaged outcome? Is this supposed to be some sort of box ticking consultation? 12 days is hardly consultation. Why ask for ‘public input’ now? What will TMA do with it, change their plans and vision?

Valuable mature healthy public trees already destroyed by TMA:

1. 180 on Mt Wellington /Maungarei , a Significant Ecological Area by non-notified resource consent;
2. Did they also remove the Scheduled Notable Macrocarpa within the Memorial Grove?
3. 152 on Mangere Maunga by non-notified resource consent.
4. 112 on Ohuiarangi /Pigeon Mountain by non-notified resource consent. Seven (7) trees were over 1000 mm in diameter, one was 11000 mm.
Valuable mature healthy public trees to be destroyed by TMA:
5. 345 on Owairaka/Mt Albert another Significant Ecological Area by non-notified resource consent dated 20 February 2019
6. The plans are to destroy 100s more: in all approximately 2000 valuable mature trees, on Mt Richmond, Mt Smart Mt Roskill, Big King, One Tree Hill, Mt St John, Mt Eden, Mt Hobson, Mt Victoria and North Head.

Many of these trees were ‘protected’ trees (over 3 or 4 metres high and 300- 400mm diameter) because they are located in an Open Space Zone or Historic Heritage Overlay.

The Auckland Council Senior Arborist said of the Mt Wellington Resource Consent application:

“I do not support the proposal to remove these trees from Maungarei for the reasons stated in the Application. There is no arboricultural reason to do so and I do not believe that the visual effects of the proposal can be dismissed as minor. I do not consider that the tree removals are in the interest of all of Auckland’s communities and generations to come. The proposal places no value on the European historical and cultural links with the site, which is documented as predominantly the planting of the existing trees (both exotic and indigenous). The application amounts to the removal of a recognised significant urban forest feature, which further reinforces the need to assess this proposal in the wider context of eco-system services provided by trees, with particular reference to the objectives and policies at E15.2, E154.3, E16.1, E16.2, E16.3 and assessment criteria at E16.8.2″

He was ignored.

The assessment of the Senior Arborist of Auckland Council can be applied to the non-notified resource consents on Ōhuiarangi and Māngere Maunga and Ōwairaka as well.

The TMA Integrated Management Plan (IMP) dated 2016 sets out the conditions for removal of exotic trees: health and safety risk; identified as weed species; risk to Archeological Features; impact on cultural landscape and viewshafts; and case by case basis.

Non-notified resource consents have been obtained to remove a mature oak and a mature macrocarpa on Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, because they needed maintenance. The Old Auckland Council, which valued our mature urban trees, would never have removed these long lived trees but would instead have managed them because of the value of the ecosystem services and biodiversity habitat they provide to future generations.

Many of the trees being removed in these clearances, for example around the edge of Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain, did not have to be removed.

What about the Strategy for Auckland’s Urban Ngahere which aims to increase Auckland’s urban forest canopy to 30%?

Clearly this is not being applied by the Council’s Commissioners or Council Community Facilities, the tree owners or guardians for our City, who are proposing and endorsing these kinds of projects. Council is actually a ‘significant player’ in the destruction of Auckland’s urban forest canopy and ‘protected trees’ being destroyed at an alarming rate.

It’s the scale of the destruction of ecosystem services, biodiversity habitat and carbon release that is not being factored into these deeply misguided plans.

How can these resource consents on Significant Ecological Areas (SEAs) proceed as non notified when SEA overlay under the Unitary plan is supposed to be our highest level of protection?

These trees represent public amenity, financed by ratepayers, that is being destroyed and Auckland’s public have a right to be notified, according to the caselaw. Especially when the consequences are ‘more than minor’.

What about the Environment Aotearoa 2019 Government Stocktake report that told us that New Zealand’s environment and biodiversity were in serious trouble?

These clearances cause habitat destruction. The desktop assessment ecology reports are opinion and inadequate, no actual surveys are being done. They are failing to assess the effect of these clearances, let alone the cumulative effect, on loss of habitat for Auckland’s fast disappearing biodiversity that live on the Maunga trees..

New Zealand’s endemic species, including epiphytes, live on our exotic trees as well as native species and none of the reports consider what is to happen to the biodiversity in the 30 -50 years it will take for the ‘mitigation’ replanting understorey to regrow. These replanting plans are not ‘mitigation’.

A forest structure is an overstorey, understorey and forest floor. In destroying the valuable overstorey trees TMA are destroying protection for the transitioning native understorey plants (the normal way they grow) and habitat for overstorey biodiversity not to mention the hugely important carbon sequestration and habitat opportunities of senescing trees.

The bat studies being done are not best practice and are known to be ineffectual. Once again we have experts going through the motions to obtain the desired resource consent result.

What about the climate change declaration that Auckland Council made surely Council is factoring that into its decision-making ? No; it is not. No carbon studies are being done.

Take out 1000s of the most valuable mature urban forest trees and you negatively affect Auckland’s climate, the stormwater and carbon sequestration services that these trees are providing. The IMP pathways also recognise the multiple narratives among all people of Tamaki Makaurau and to enhance the mauri and wairua of the Tupuna Maunga and environmental systems. I do not believe that the TMA is currently properly implementing the pathways of its own IMP.

These clearances are taking place without proper ceremony. They are destroying the web of life (mauri) and the spirit (wairua) of Tane’s children.

Members of the TMA speak a lot about the ‘living’ Maunga. What do they mean? Is it life on the Maunga, some forseeable life they wish to create? What is the life of this Maunga?

Papatūānuku is always changing she is never still. She nurtures all life. The trees, and all who live on them, under them and over them, were brought to us by Tane. All create the web of life that sustains life.

The tikanga is that we must not harm, we must uplift and be protective of plants, trees and biodiversity. The whakapapa of plants and trees is senior to humans they were created before people. There is therefore a duty of care to protect trees, they are our ancestors.

The way forward is Tiwaiwaka.*

It is a collective of people committed to healing the mauri of the whenua. Caring for the whenua is the first priority. Everything else must be measured against this.

I call upon the TMA to be true to its ‘values’ :

i) to ‘tread lightly’.
ii) To show leadership through education of Tiwaiwaka reverence for the mauri and the wairoa of our precious ancestors with the appropriate care and ceremony where we, reluctantly, have to destroy mauri and wairoa for humanity’s ‘dust world plans’.
iii) To stop treating the people of Auckland as ‘enemies’ whom you cannot communicate your plans to for fear of objection. Actually be ‘inclusive’ and ‘bring people with you’ rather than pay lip service to the words.
iv) To treat the people who come to make submissions to your Huis with respect. It is significant that Paul Majurey, chairman of the TMA, does not thank all those who appear to speak at the TMA Huis.
v) To become inclusive not just when you want something like ‘replanting’ after the destruction of clearances which is so offensive to the people who live next to the Maunga with a sense of living connection, identity and guardianship, who love and respect the gifts that the ‘living’ environment of the Maunga give to them. Who had no knowledge of what TMA was going to do and only 6 days notice of the clearances when they occurred. Māngere Maunga is said to be “silent” now the web of life has been destroyed.

We want the TMA to show leadership and to become ‘inclusive’ going forward.

The greatest gift we can give to coming generations is a world that is worth living in!

Also attached is my unaddressed letter dated 7 June 2019. (See here.)

Note your ‘public input’ has to be in by 5pm 16 August 2019 to:

* With thanks to Rob McGowan (Pa Rōpata) for his principles of Tiwaiwaka. Download the booklet for free here: Tiwaiwaka.

7 August 2019
Wendy Gray

Non-notified Resource Consents that TMA already have or which are in process

Tēnā koe Wendy

Thank you for your email enquiry. Please accept our apologies for the length of time it has taken to reply. Below are answers to each of your questions: Copies of the Resource Consents for removal of exotic trees (termed  vegetation) that have been granted so far (properly signed and dated):

1. Copies of the Resource Consents for removal of exotic trees (termed vegetation)  that have been granted so far (properly signed and dated).

We attach copies of the consent applications for the below maunga (given the size of the documentation it will be supplied on a memory stick):

Maunga Consent number
Maungarei/Mt Wellington LUC60311082 LUC60311082A
Te Pane o Mataaoho/Te Ara Pueru/Māngere Mountain LUC60326774
Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain LUC 60331431
Owairaka/Mt Albert LUC60328646
Maungawhau/ Mt Eden LUC/2017/335
Maungakiekie TRE60338771

(Click the consent number for the documents supplied. Or here for the summary page.)

2. Any pending Resource Consent applications for removal of exotic trees termed vegetation.

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has directed management to conduct vegetation management on the maunga as set out in the Operational Plans, the most recent of which can be found here.

3. Copies of all supporting documentation and expert reports, particularly  ecology surveys and reports, that are being lodged, or have been lodged, in support of the resource consent applications that have been granted so far (on the list below) and those that are still pending.

Copies of the supporting documentation for the consents set out in question 1 are attached (in the memory stick).

4. Copies of all arboricultural reports and details of whether these were presented to the Tūpuna Maunga O Tāmaki Makaurau Authority to assist them in their decision-making and dates when they were presented;

Copies of the arboricultural reports are attached with the materials in response to question 3.  The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has directed management to conduct vegetation management on the maunga as set out in the Operational Plans.

5. Copies of all decisions by the Tūpuna Maunga O Tāmaki Makaurau Authority to proceed on each of these Resource Consents;

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has directed management to conduct vegetation management on the maunga as set out in the Operational Plans, the most recent of which can be found here.

6. I am told by Nick Turoa that it is Council which has determined that these Resource Consents should proceed Non- Notified and the Tūpuna Maunga O Tāmaki Makaurau Authority has no say in the matter. Could you please clarify who makes the decision to apply for the Resource Consents to clear fell all exotic trees on each Maunga as Non-Notified? Could I please have copies of the applications?

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has directed management to conduct vegetation management on the maunga as set out in the Operational Plans, the most recent of which can be found here.

The Authority makes applications as required pursuant to the Resource Management Act 1991.  These applications are processed by the Auckland Council consents team.

7. Could I please have copies of all of the decisions on the Resource Consent applications set out in the list below:

i) Maungarei/ Mt Wellington

ii) Te Pane-o-Mataaho/ Te Ara Puera / Mangere Mountain

iii)  Īhuiarangi/ Pigeon Mountain

iv) Matukutūruru/ Wiri

v) Ōhinerau/ Mt Hobson

vi) Te Tātua-a-Riukiuta / Big King

vii)   Ōtāhuhu/ Mt Richmond

viii)  Maungakiekie/ One Tree Hill

ix)  Maungawhau/ Mt Eden

x)  Maungauika/ North Head

xi) Ōwairaka/ Te Ahi-Ka-Rakataura/ Mt Albert

xii)       Pukewīwī / Puketāpapa/ Mt Roskill

xiii)      Takarunga / Mt Victoria

xiv)      Tekōpuke / Titikopuke / Mt St John

Refer to the answer provided in question 1.

8. If no resource consent application to remove the trees has yet been made, on any of the Maunga listed above, can you tell me how I can obtain copies of all the documents before decisions are made on the applications?

The relevant documents are attached in response to question 3.

9. Could I also have copies of the ‘vegetation restoration’ plans and resource consents, properly signed and dated? Plus copies of all supporting documentation and expert reports which set out the ‘mitigation replanting’ plans and consideration of the potential geotechnical, erosion control, where relevant water pollution, and slope stability issues.

These plans are contained within the various ecological reports within the supporting documentation to the consent applications.

10. Who has conduct of these applications on behalf of Council? Could I please have details so that I can communicate directly with them?

The vegetation management work is carried out by the T?puna Maunga Authority independently of Auckland Council.  Resource consent applications are dealt with by the Auckland Council’s consents team.

As per our previous emails, the memory stick containing the attachments will be available from the reception desk at the Auckland Council, 135 Albert Street, ground floor.

Ngā mihi

Nicholas Turoa

Nicholas Turoa

Kaiwhakahaere Tūpuna Maunga



Letter to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority 7 June 2019

to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

Paul Majurey- paul.majurey@ahmlaw.nz Cr Alf Filipaina – alf.filipaina@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Cr Josephine Bartley – josephine.bartley@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Cr Dr Cathy Casey – cathy.casey@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Glenda Fryer – glenda.fryer@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Kit Parkinson – kit.parkinson@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Malcolm Paterson – Joe Pihema – Hauāuru Rawiri – Lemaunga Lydia Sosone – lemauga.sosene@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz Josie Smith – josie@tekotuku.co.nz Karen Wilson – Stefan Corbett – stefan.corbett@mpi.govt.nz Michelle Judge – michelle.judge@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

7 June 2019

Manawa mai te mauri nuku
Manawa mai te mauri rangi
Ko te mauri kai au he mauri tipua
Ka pakaru mai po
Tau mai te mauri!
Haumi e, hui e, taike e!

Dear Chair, Deputy Chair and Members,

Under your standing orders I have asked to speak to you at your Hui on Friday 7 June 2019. Mr Majurey would not let me speak for reasons outside your standing orders. This failure to follow your standing orders is an abuse of, and undemocratic to, residents of Auckland who have a valid interest in your work.

In the circumstances I am writing to all members, personally, I have asked Michelle Judge to forward this correspondence to you. This letter is also being circulated to the news media.

I wish to speak to you on behalf of those who have no voice in your decision-making, the standing people, the children of Tane and Papatūānuku, and in my capacity as Tree Advocate.

Caleb Azor

I have asked Caleb Azor, whom you met at the last Hui, to provide a statement to you. It seemed to me that you did not ‘see’ him when he spoke to you last time. Certainly you did not hear him. He has an important message to deliver to you as many young people today are doing. It is up to us adults to see him and hear what he has to say.

This young man who loves Ōhuiarangi, spoke to Nick Turoa numerous times trying to save the mature exotic protected trees from destruction in April when they were destroyed by Treescape/Vector. Many trees he had personal relationships with. During that process, after chasing for a number of days, Nick Turoa admitted to him that the trees on the outside of the Maunga did not have to be cut down but it was too late because Treescape/Vector had completed the contract in 12 days instead of 20 and had already cut them down!

This was devastating for Caleb, the total unnecessary destruction of life that was a large part of his life and community. It is difficult to understand the  TMA claims to protect the ‘living Maunga’ and to your claimed role of kaitiaki. Talking to him you can tell he is still in shock.

I ask you to read his message attached “Tangata whenua could ‘adopt’ mature exotic trees as their own – adoption is a way to make the Other one of us and remove the offence of their presence. The gifts trees give to us and the environment surely warrant this. There is a precedent to do this, it seems to me, in the generous spirit of manaakitanga, welcoming and acceptance.”

The IMP recognises that it is important to “facilitate the sense of living connection, identity and guardianship over the maunga felt by neighbours and surrounding communities and support those communities to be engaged with the maunga and active in its protection, restoration and enhancement” (p74).

The Tupuna Maunga Authority also holds the Maunga of Auckland in trust for the common benefit of the other people of Auckland too. Those of you who do not live next to these Maunga do not understand the daily pain of looking at spaces where beloved trees used to stand. These communities deserve more than 6 days’ notice of your plans. There is a dreadful lack of balance in what you are doing.

Concerns we wish to raise

We are all deeply alarmed about the negative consequences of your flawed programme of works to destroy the mature protected exotic trees on Auckland’s volcanoes and all areas where you have influence and control.

We are deeply concerned that you appear to be ignoring all the dire warnings from the Government stock-take Environment Aotearoa 2019 Report, reports from NIWA as well as the UN Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. We are deeply disturbed that whatever short-term gains you imagine you are achieving will cause long-term, widespread loss to future generations and Auckland’s fragile biodiversity.

Climate change, environmental and biodiversity impacts of TMA activities

The cumulative environmental consequences of your agenda, what ever it might be, is having devastating consequences on the climate management and biodiversity of Auckland and its environment.  In April 2019 the Environment Aotearoa Report 2019 was published. This was the time you were clear-felling the mature exotic protected trees on Mangere, Ōhuiarangi. Forest & Bird’s chief executive, Kevin Hague said of the assessment of the environment’s overall health, ‘things are very bad’.   Auckland’s climate is changing. Auckland Council is not reacting fast enough, its current policies are making the problem worse. This last term of local government has seen massive loss of urban forest, (mostly our valuable large mature exotic trees), at least one third, likely more. Council is a ‘significent player’ in the loss of protected trees.

The Tupuna Maunga Authority is a major player in changing Auckland’s climate. Every time you destroy the mature exotic trees on Auckland’s volcanoes, you destroy a microclimate that is feeding into Auckland’s macroclimate. You are changing Auckland’s climate tree by tree.

These trees manage and modulate our climate. 100-year old trees are transpiring over 1000 litres of water a day. When you have 100 of them on a mountain like Mangere or Ōhuiarangi they create a significant microclimate. Now they are gone the volcano will dry out, be subject to wind, stormwater run-off and heavy weather events leading to increased temperatures, soil instability and erosion.

I have been told that this is already happening on Ōhuiarangi. Areas which I understand are important to your cultural values are degrading fast with the increase in wind and stormwater run off that the trees, now destroyed, used to protect the area from.

Originally planted for rehabilitation

These mature exotic trees were originally planted to re-habilitate this land. We have all seen the pictures of Auckland completely denuded of trees. They were planted because they grow faster than natives and serve well, their function ,and our need, to make soil and stabilise the land.

Currently they form Auckland’s urban forest overstorey. The trees whose crowns form the highest layer of our urban canopy and whose job it is to nurture the younger understorey trees and ngahere. Many of these exotic trees grow unusually large in New Zealand, Papatuanuku and Tane nurture these trees. The atua do not discriminate like we do.

Loss of Overstorey loss Habitat

These trees are also habitat both above and below ground for Auckland’s endemic, migratory and non-native biodiversity. What happens to the biodiversity that is living on these 100s of overstorey trees when you cut them down? Did you even ask the question?

The gums on Ōhuiarangi, did you check for bats?

Auckland’s forest canopy is shrinking fast, where will the biodiversity go? Replanting the scrub and bush you propose, is not mitigation. It is a long-term plan, but you have destroyed the overstorey which nurtures the understorey. You have destroyed Mother Nature’s balanced framework and process. Lack of moisture will be a future problem.

You can only ‘replace’ a 100 year old tree with a 100-year old tree because of what that tree is doing.

I understand that your replanting schemes do not intend to replace the 100s of valuable healthy mature trees you are destroying. The majority of the plantings will be grasses and flaxes. At Western Springs Forest we have an example of what is currently happening across Auckland. This is a 90+ year old exotic pine forest overstorey SEA that is transitioning to a native forest which is currently the understorey. For this reason this forest is very valuable for study and teaching purposes. But like you Council has plans to destroy it and mitigate with a long-term plan of planting. This will not ‘mitigate’ the current values of the SEA for 90 years.

This Forest is another microclimate that Council is  planning to destroy which will have the direct consequence of heating the local area and the CBD of Auckland, which it currently cools. Not to mention all the other associated problems with removing a 90 year old forest.


The ‘preferred contractors’ of Council Community Facilities lack the skills to manage Auckland’s green resources. Some Council employees responsible for Treescape/Vector are revolving door appointments who do not have the necessary arboricultural skills. Their advice and that of ‘preferred contractors’ and ‘preferred experts’ is leading to unnecessary destruction of Auckland’s very valuable exotic mature ‘protected’ trees rather than what used to happen, tree management.

We want a public audit of Council Community Facilities tree management. Claims that replanting is ‘mitigation’ are wrong. You cannot replace the amenity value of these trees, the ecosystem services and climate management they are providing, during the 30 -50 years it takes a sapling to reach maturity. Latest science tells us that the older the tree the bigger the carbon sequester.

Many people in Council have been taken in by these opportunists.


The guiding cultural value of Kaitiakitanga is, very generally, the concept of living in guardianship with each other and the environment. It is an ancient and constantly developing Maori cultural value. It is large in scope and
encompasses all facets of life on earth. It is a way of living, a belief system that informs us how to live in harmony and balance with Mother Earth. It is not one set of beliefs but many which evolve from tribe to tribe and from decade to decade.

This is not a fixed value.

Resource Consents

I have unsuccessfully been trying to obtain copies of TMA non-notified resource consents and supporting  documents. I have already complained to the Ombudsman about Council’s failure to provide me with what should be
publically available documentation.

I have also written to Nick Turoa as he suggested when I mentioned it to him at the last Hui and have received no response to my letter, despite his assurances. Democracy services tells me I will receive a letter from him but to date this has not been forthcoming. Why are your non-notified resource consents and supporting documentation not publicly available?

Your RC applications should be notified because of the huge impact and consequences to the environment, biodiversity and the health of local communities, of your clearances of ‘protected’ trees and microclimate destruction. All of which is more than minor.

I believe your RC applications may be non-compliant and open to challenge. Could you please notify me of all of your resource consents because I have a special interest in them. Please copy me with your applications and
supporting documentation.

The Man of Trees Richard St Barbe Baker said “The forester of the future will be sensitive to the needs, not only of his trees, but of the earth itself. We must all become tree-conscious and earth-conscious”(p.132 The Land of Tane)


By ‘adopt the trees’ we mean that we embrace them as whānau.
They are family.
Our family.
They are children of Tane.
Brought up, nourished by Papatūāunuku.
Received light from Rangi, and turned that light into the breath of our life.
Tihei mauri ora!
Tauhou or not, they have been with us for hundreds of years.
All that time, and right now they provide for us, shelter us, shade us, they sustain life
all around them.
Our children play under them, rest under them.
They have been here longer than any of us, tangata or not.
They knew our tūpuna, indeed they provided for them, sheltered them, shaded
them and sustained them.
Your tūpuna also played under these tane.
If anyone is mana whenua around here, it is the trees.
How can we treat them as kai nā te ahi?
So embrace them.
They are whānau.
Adopt them.
They deserve our protection.
Tihei mauri ora!

Yours sincerely
Wendy Gray
Email: wendzgray@orcon.net.nz
Mobile 021 149 2267

Statement of Caleb Azor

My name is Caleb Azor. I live across the road from Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain, one of the  maunga/mountains the Tupuna Maunga Authority are in control of, and knew and loved it and it's trees my whole life. Ōhuiarangi and many of the places there were special places to me and my family, and we felt a connection to them. I respect the trees as expressions of life that in many cases have existed before me and will outlive me, always giving to the environment (unlike us humans) and this regardless of whether they are native or exotic. The Tupuna Maunga Authority has a
precedent for this in the generous spirit of manaakitanga, welcoming and acceptance. So the devastation at the loss of 120+ trees that you have cut down on Ohiarangi is great.

It has been horrible and painful to lose these trees and the birds that lived in them. I am really heartbroken about the removal of so many trees that I have known and loved my whole life. It has completely changed the places we loved very much for the worse, and the maunga itself is unrecognisable as the beautiful place it was.

But this decision was made a few years ago, and only in the last few months has there been a snowballing sense of urgency regarding the environment and climate change, lead by us tamariki (children) – whose future you are the kaitiaki of. In light of this, removal of thousands of mature trees, carbon storers and air purifiers, must be reconsidered.

Tāngata whenua could ‘adopt’ mature exotic trees as their own – adoption is a way to make the other one of us and remove the offence of their presence. The gifts trees give to us and the environment surely warrant this. There is a precedent to do this, it seems to me, in the generous spirit of manaakitanga, welcoming and acceptance.

Thank You,
Caleb Azor

Do Aucklanders value their trees?

If the Auckland Council’s Urban Tree Strategy is anything to go by, the answer is ‘Not very much’.

According to the Council’s valuation, the trees of Auckland are worth $11.4 million. Sounds like a lot? Divide it by the number of trees – 4.64 million – and the average value wouldn’t be enough to buy a cup of coffee.

Auckland Council says the average urban tree is worth only $2.53 per annum.

“It’s no wonder developers and Auckland Transport destroy trees without hesitation’ comments Wendy Gray, Tree Advocate. She adds: ’And note that the figures are based on 18% cover as of 2013. The Tree Council’s surveys shows a slaughter of a third of our trees in four years. So we have less than 12% cover.

Wendy Gray turned to an example close to many people’s hearts. ‘When you have a full head of hair, you don’t mind losing a few.

when you’re balding, every hair counts!

But when you’re balding, every hair counts! With 88% uncovered, we’re nearly completely bald!’

Auckland’s Urban Tree Strategy, presented to AC’s Environment and Community meeting on 5 December 2017, lists over thirty different benefits of trees in the urban environment. These include the obvious such as carbon sequestration, removal of carbon dioxide and habitat enrichment. It also notes the less obvious such as ‘Employees with views of trees more productive’ and ‘Improved retail performance’.

Without explanation, Auckland Council calculates the value of only four benefits: Air pollution removal,  Energy savings, Carbon sequestration, Avoided Stormwater runoff1.

Other cities

Wendy Gray comments ‘AC’s figures are completely out of line with other cities. Adelaide values its trees at $188 each2, Melbourne at $9283. And London’s valuation is a comparable $10204.’

Other cities value their trees for multiple benefits. but Auckland calculates a mere four. Other cities recognise the capital value of trees for their amenity services. For example, London’s 2013 project ‘Valuing London’s Urban Forest’ put the capital value of its trees at over GBP 43 billion ($81 billion)! Auckland does not even count one cent’s worth.

Wendy Gray comments ‘I think Aucklanders would be shocked to learn that their elected Council values our trees so pitifully low. A $2.53 average means than even a magnificent, veteran tree that everyone loves may be worth less than $10 per annum. That can’t be right.’

‘The result is wholesale slaughter of trees in our beautiful city. And there are signs it’s accelerating. Auckland’s urban trees are in crisis: there are now so few, every loss counts.’

‘The result is wholesale slaughter of trees in our beautiful city. And there are signs it’s accelerating. Auckland’s urban trees are in crisis: there are now so few, every loss counts.’

‘We’ve got to stop the slaughter. What’s the point of planting a million new trees when we’re cutting down millions of old, established trees? We need a moratorium. We’ve got to take stock. And we have to educate everyone – and that’s from Council to individual Aucklanders; But we’ve got to stop cutting down trees. Now.’


Auckland Council Environment and Community Committee Agenda paper 5 December 2017

The Economic Value Of Trees In Urban Areas: Estimating The Benefits Of Adelaide’s Street Trees

Urban Trees: Worth More Than They Cost

Valuing London’s Urban Forest

Adapted from a press release issued in April 2018

Unnecessary destruction of tree during stormwater works.
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Tree consciousness

Tree consciousness is to living as fresh air is to breathing

You can go through your entire life without ever thinking about your breathing. You could be hardly conscious of it even though you breathe every minute of your life. You won’t die on the spot if you stop thinking about your breathing. That’s because your body has amazingly precise and automatic systems for making sure you keep breathing and stay alive.
You can also go through your entire life without ever thinking about trees. You could be hardly conscious of them, even when you walk past them. And you certainly won’t die on the spot if you never ever think about trees! But that’s only because trees are working every daylight minute to give you the stuff that keeps you breathing.

Life in breath

Think what wonderful things become possible once you become fully conscious of breathing. Life is enriched as whole worlds open up. Conscious breathing powers all theatre from singing to acting to dancing to performing music. Without great breathing, sports and martial arts are closed to you. Breathing is also the key to all kinds of mind-body practices like yoga, meditation.

Have you ever noticed that if you’re in a bad mood, a walk under some trees always makes you feel better?

You may not think you’re conscious of trees. But on very hot, sunny days do you instinctively enjoy leafy shade when you get under it? Do you duck under a tree’s cover then you’re caught out in a rain bomb?

Tree conscious

When you become fully tree conscious, something wonderful happens. It’s like suddenly appreciating someone who has always been there for you. They’re there in the background and you don’t see them. Yet you can always rely them. Trees have been in the background – yours, mine, everyone’s – from the first day any of us were born. We kicked the leaves when we were little, We had picnics in their shade. We watched birds flying in and out.
When you become tree conscious, you appreciate how they soften the harsh lines of the city. How they give colour through their leaves and flowers. How the movement of the leaves refreshes your eyes, their rustling provides a soft music that always soothes.

As you become more aware of trees, you remember what you learnt at school. Trees produce a truly vital thing we need to stay alive. Oxygen. Without it you can’t breathe. Actually, you’d die in seconds. The leaves of trees churn out oxygen every daylight minute of every day – without pause or let up – all year round. A fair-sized mature tree produces roughly enough oxygen to keep a family alive.

Air of life

Yes; that means for every tree that is cut down, there is several fewer people the planet can keep alive. At present, the air is on average about 20% oxygen and we can live comfortably with that. But in cities the proportion of oxygen in the air drops to as low as 17% and in crowded indoor space, even less. At around this level, people get irritable, cross, uncomfortable and feel more stressed as levels drop.

Globally, oxygen levels are dropping. But in localities like a forest, oxygen levels can rise to 21% and greater. Little wonder we all feel more chilled out in a forest than in a high street.

But not only do trees produce the oxygen you need to live. Just like appreciating all the quiet things a supportive person does for you, tree consciousness opens up all the invisible services trees render. We enjoy their shade and shelter from the rain. But that shelter also protects the ground: trees soften the eroding effects of rain by retaining vast amounts in the leaves before letting it drip steadily to the ground. Trees control storm water by soaking up thousands of gallons. They break up strong winds and also dissipate noise. Tree leaves also filter the air, collecting dust particles to be washed later by rain.

Unseen life

Then there are the other creatures that share trees with us. We see the most obvious – the birds – but few of us take notice of the insects and small plants that depend on a tree. It offers shelter and home to dozens of species of insects which are food for birds, pollinate our flowers, and clean up our environment by eating up our waste.

one thing you can guarantee: there’s no such thing as a tree that’s empty of life

And there will be lichen, fungi and plants growing on the trees. Some you can see, some you won’t spot. But one thing you can guarantee: there’s no such thing as a tree that’s empty of life.

Tree consciousness unwraps a world that you knew only by its superficial coverings.

Tree consciousness deepens your appreciation of the intricate web of all living things, their inter-connectedness, their inter-dependence. Above all, tree consciousness deepens your appreciation of how you – and everything you hold dear – all depend, and depend totally, on trees. Tree consciousness brings you to feel a deep gratitude for all that trees give to us. And that can only enrich your living.

Tom Ang

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