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

One thought on “Submission to Tūpuna Maunga Authority : August 2019”

  1. Dear Tree Advocates and Wendy
    THANKYOU so much for doing this excellent work to protect our urban forest, an elegant analysis and beautifully written critique of the unacceptable proposal of one form of Maori Authority to massacre the non-native trees on the volcanic cones of Auckland -but the majority of Maori would not want this to be done in their name.

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