Many thanks to Glenn Petterd for his photos recording some of the trees at risk of destruction by Tupuna Maunga Authority. Their loss is considered ‘less than minor’.
Documents 30 March 2021
One week before works are due to start, Council sends out the ‘approved’ documents.
Documents March 2021
WTM_20200317_ATT_9819_DOCSforMEETING (fire service)
Documents relating Western Springs Forest that have been recently released in response to LGOIMA requests.
Click on the title to download. You can set your browser to open the file in a window if you don’t wish to download.
If you wish to make observations or have more information for us please comment below. If any links are broken, please notify using the form too. Thanks.
Caleb’s recording of night of 11 February 2021
The following is an audio track from a video recording that Caleb Azor made of a conversation in the middle of the night while he occupied Big Mac. The loudness has been RMS equalised so that hardly audible speech is easier to hear.
The conversation lasts over 13 minutes. In the section up to about 6 minutes you can hear Ockham personnel below his position trying to keep Caleb awake. Then he is startled by a call from someone who has climbed up to his position (leading to more than 6 secs of fumbling). Notice a chainsaw starting up at 9:41sec. You might like to pay really close attention from about 11 min.
Caleb is a model of politeness, patience, caution and quiet passion and speaks with remarkable clarity and calm. The recording breaks off because he decides he needs to make a call to get help.
The audio file was extracted from the video as that showed mostly black and ghostly figures. If you wish to see the original video with original sound, please check this link to YouTube.
These are documents delivered in response to requests for information that were dealt with under LGOIMA 1987 and are therefore presumed to be freely available to the public.
Click on the title to download. You can set your browser to open the file in a window if you don’t wish to download.
The following is a highly revealing document written by senior executives to Whau Local Board: Memo to Whau Local Board Chairperson
Note also the letter from Mark Todd, Managing Director of Ockham Residential, also below.
Documents relating to the consent decision
Brush 0ffs from Council and request for reasons
Related policy documents
Any breach of confidence or infringement of copyright is inadvertent. In case of error please contact treeadvocates.com for rectification.
Follow-up letter of 17 Feb first, original letter of 10 Feb below
17 February 2021
Dear Mr Mayor
We refer to our open letter to you dated Wednesday 10 February 2021.
This letter provides crucial new information to support our contentions in that letter with respect to the CEO of Auckland Council, James Stabback, and members of his executive team.
In addition, this new information implicates not only Panuku Development Auckland but also Auckland Council in what appears to be a deliberate circumvention of the Resource Management Act and it’s consenting process.
The new information is:
1. In the early morning of Friday 12 February, Caleb Azor (the lone protestor occupying “Big Mac”), was surprised by the sudden appearance near his position in the tree of William Deihl, Executive Director of Ockham Construction. We note that there is a health and safety complaint currently with police regarding this behaviour by Mr Deihl.
2. During the conversation, which was recorded by Caleb on his mobile phone, (Mr Diehl makes it clear he is aware Caleb is holding his phone) Mr Deihl makes the following claim:
“…We got sold this land on the proviso that these trees weren’t going to be here…”
This raises a number of serious issues:
1. It would seem that the decision taken by CEO James Stabback and his Executive Team to permit the removal of Big Mac was a foregone conclusion, predicated on the irregular agreement that Ockham-Marutuahu claim to have made with Auckland Council.
2. This is a clear circumvention of Auckland Council’s democratic processes, compromises the Whau Local Board delegated authority, and compromises Auckland Council’s own expert staff.
3. Auckland Council is required to consult with iwi in good faith. Ngati Whatua Orakei are on record as having opposed the circumvention of the Scheduled Tree Register by this Resource Consent application and Tree Owner approval process. It is now clear that consultation with iwi was not conducted in good faith, because an agreement had already been reached that the developers could remove the tree.
4. The Ockham Residential website includes the following statement dated 12 February 2021:
“Ockham and Marutūahu were invited by Panuku Development Auckland (backed by the Whau Local Board and Auckland Council) to undertake the Aroha project in partnership with HUD.”
This raises questions as to the involvement of representatives of Panuku in assurances made to Ockham/Marutūahu with respect to Big Mac.
We would further note the following with respect to the Whau Local Board:
1. It has also come to light that some members of the Whau Local Board did not get the memorandum dated 16 December 2020 written by Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan ‘informing’ them of the decision to remove Big Mac that was to be made by staff of Council under delegated authority of Council’s Chief Executive.
2. It is understood that not all members of the Board were happy to allow Auckland Council staff to take this decision. This concern would appear to have been well founded.
3. We also understand that there have been requests from Local Board members to view the letters including threats of legal proceedings that were referred to in CEO James Stabback’s decision. It appears that these documents are not available to the Local Board and members of the public. These letters should be made public immediately. Failure to do so would fuel the presumption there is something to hide.
4. We believe that the decision is a misuse of the CEO’s delegated authority which renders it unsafe and probably invalid.
We have already called into question the Tree Owner approval process in our previous letter. This further evidence raises more questions as to Council’s bad faith and now the question of dishonesty in public office.
We are also sending this letter to the Minister of Housing, the Minister of Local Government and the Auditor General.
A copy of the recording is available on request.
We look forward to receiving your response to this letter.
Wendy Gray and Caleb Azor
10 February 2021
Dear Mr Mayor
We are writing to you as concerned residents and ratepayers of Auckland and as Tree Advocate and Tree Protector.
This is an open letter because of the imminent removal, scheduled for Thursday 11 February 2021, of the Notable Macrocarpa Tree locally known as “Big Mac” located on the corner of Ash Street and Great North Road Avondale.
We are writing to make a formal complaint regarding the conduct of the CEO of Auckland Council, James Stabback, and members of his executive team, with regards to the decision on 23 December 2020, on delegated authority, to grant permission for the removal of this iconic landmark.
The specific conduct alleged in this complaint is as follows:
- Failure to follow usual process and making an exception for this developer and his partner by escalating this tree owner approval decision, and the decision-making process, to the Executive Team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan) and to the CEO James Stabback himself.
- Failure by the Executive team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) to consider, (do more than note), the opposition to the removal of this tree from the Whau Local Board (the landowner consent authority), and the Tree Council.
- Failure to consider (do more than note) the Landscape Architect report (17 December 2020) provided by the Tree Council, disputing claims in the Greenscene report (4 December 2020), relied on by Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback, that the tree is in poor health and to justify their favourable decision.
- Failure by the Executive team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) to consider, (do more than note), the opposition to the removal of this tree from Auckland Council’s own Resource Consents Department Arborist and Council’s Senior Heritage Arborist.
- Failure by the Executive team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) to consider, (do more than note), the opposition to the removal of this tree from mana whenua Ngati Whatua Orakei, thereby failing to implement the Auckland Plan 2050 to adopt a Maori World view to treasure and protect our natural environment. It is not tikanga to destroy the mauri of this mature locally important Notable tree in the circumstances of this decision.
- Council’s commissioning (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) of the Greenscene report in order to discredit (a fair inference given that this was in fact the effect of the obtaining of this report) the advice of their own skilled arborists in order to enable the Executive Team (and therefore James Stabback) to make a decision favourable to the developer.
- According to the Tree Owner Approval Guide the aim is to respond to an application within 3 days and the Council will endeavour to process the application within 10 working days. Longer time frames are envisaged for complex applications. The application envisages that the applicant will provide all the information for the approval. In this case, Auckland Council commissioned the Greenscene report and then relied on it not its own skilled arborists? The Guide also sets out the matters to be ‘considered’ by Auckland Council. ‘Consideration’ requires ‘continuous and careful thought, careful weighing of the reasons for and against something’ (Webster). Merely noting something without further comment is not ‘consideration’; it is box-ticking.
- Failure by the Executive team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) to properly investigate the developer’s claims. 40% of the trees mass occupies the developer’s site (the greater part 60% being on Council/Whau Local Board land), yet the developer claimed that failure to remove this tree would result in the inability to build 34 of the 117 proposed apartments. On the face of it, this does appear to be overegging the consequences.
- Failure by the Executive team (Claudia Wyss and Rod Sheridan and therefore James Stabback) to investigate the developer’s threats of legal action (the primary reason given for allowing the consent) when (a) it was clear from the Resource Consent application that the developer was informed in August and September 2020 that Council arborists were not minded to grant tree owner consent, and (b) that they would also be required to obtain tree owner consent to be able to proceed with the development.
- Subsequent to the decision being made, it has come to the attention of the community that there have on-going negotiations between the developers and Mana Rakau, the protest group who are currently occupying a property at Canal Rd, Avondale, and who have also been occupying the site of “Big Mac”.
- The community has been informed that these negotiations have involved James Stabback, and the Chair of Panuku, the prior owner of the development property. It is noted that the Chair of Panuku is also Chair of the applicant’s partner in this Aroha development, Hauraki Confederation Marutāūhu. It is also noted that James Stabback was on the group who selected the Chair of Panuku to his position.
- There is widespread concern within the community that the CEO and the Executive team have not been impartial in this matter.
- Taken together the cumulative effect is that ultimately by his actions in this matter, James Stabback has brought his office and Auckland Council into disrepute.
It, therefore, follows that on the facts this decision is unsafe and the developer and the Chair of Marutāūhu/Panuku should be immediately informed.
You are asked to formally investigate this complaint and report back in an open letter to the news media.
This open letter is also being sent to the appropriate Minister, committees, the Auditor General and the news media.
The public of Auckland are invited to come to the corner of Ash Street and Gt North Road on Thursday 11 February 2020 to protest the failure of Auckland Council to protect Auckland’s most important and valuable Scheduled trees and to protest the killing of the mauri and wairua of this living being that is Big Mac.
Wendy Gray & Caleb Azor
Tupuna Maunga Authority extends its area of influence over consents etc.
Time for anyone and everyone living or working within or even near any of these pink zones of Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) control. TMA have given themselves oversight of subdivision, stormwater and wastewater, earthworks, height and other matters that may require resource consent.
For full details, download the details and maps compiled from official Auckland Unitary Plan geomaps overlays.
Here are a few examples:
This is the overall map for Auckland. Check the full document compiled by Tree Advocates (the maps provided by TMA are uselessly low in resolution) here.
Adopt a Tree: an open-air festival in praise of trees, Western Park, Auckland.
Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around Your Adopted Tree 18 November 2017
On 18 November 2017, the Urban Tree Alliance (Wendy Gray, Aprilanne Bonar) ran the Adopt-a-Tree community event kicking off the public awareness campaign at Western Park, Auckland.
Supported by Waitematā Local Board and local businesses, the event offered live music, face painting, forest bathing, taiji and yoga classes, tree meditation.
The campaign invites Auckland residents to adopt their favourite tree locally, get to know it, give it a drink particularly in the hot summer months and remind construction workers to be careful around trees.
Free yellow ribbons were handed out on the day for members of the public to tie around their chosen tree.
In the last 4 years (in 2017) one third of Auckland’s urban canopy has been cut down and by 2030, if the status quo exists, there will be no urban tree canopy left in Auckland.
Here are some memories of the festival. We hope to be organising soon. Let us know if you're interested in being involved, or running one events.
© Tom Ang
The flyer advertising the event.
Tree consciousness expands life with joy.
Consciousness of trees 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.
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? Have you ever noticed that if you’re in a bad mood, a walk under some trees always makes you feel better?
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.
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. And we’d do well to pay attention to the massive life underground. Literally massive. As much, if not more, of the biomass of a tree lies underground. And with it all the soil myccorhiza and fungi and bacteria that enable a tree to extract minerals from the soil. An armful of healthy soil could contain 3 kilometres of fungal hyphae or threads that move water and minerals between plans, between trees.
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. 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 : April 2018
TMA has failed in its duty under The Reserves Act.
A brief note on the relation of Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) activities to The Reserves Act. And its failures.
1. The Reserves Act 1977 is administered by Department of Conservation.
2. Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014 (Redress Act) refers repeatedly to Reserves Act in Part 2: essentially, it revokes the Act for each maunga, then transfers fee simple to TMA.
3. Redress Act Part 2: Cultural redress: § 17 Statement of Association says: (1) The Crown acknowledges the statements of association of iwi and hapū.(2) However, the statements—(a) must not affect, or be taken into account by, a person exercising a power or performing a function or duty under an enactment or a bylaw made by a local authority under an enactment; and (b) do not affect the lawful rights or legal obligations of any person; and (c) do not grant, create, or affect any interests or rights relating to the lands referred to in the statements.(My emphasis: that’s why we can protest on ‘their’ land.)
4. Subpart 1 goes through the vesting of maunga (other than Maungauika and Rarotonga) for each maunga.
5. In each §, after the fee simple of each is vested in the trustee (TMA), each maunga is “then declared a reserve and classified as a XXX reserve subject to section YY of the Reserves Act 1977.” XXX refers to the reserve being either a a local purpose reserve, historic reserve, or recreation reserve. According type of reserve, different sections apply: respectively 17, 18, 23. Some maunga have more than one type of reserve.(There’s also a clause for easement for Watercare.)
6. The germane bits are: § 17 ‘Recreation reserves’ stipulates: (2) (b) that “every recreation reserve shall be so administered under the appropriate provisions of this Act that … where scenic, historic, archaeological, biological, geological, or other scientific features or indigenous flora or fauna or wildlife are present on the reserve, those features or that flora or fauna or wildlife shall be managed and protected to the extent compatible with the principal or primary purpose of the reserve… and (c) those qualities of the reserve which contribute to the pleasantness, harmony, and cohesion of the natural environment and to the better use and enjoyment of the reserve shall be conserved (d) to the extent compatible with the principal or primary purpose of the reserve, its value as a soil, water, and forest conservation area shall be maintained.”(My emphases.) (Ōwairaka is a recreation reserve)
7. § 18 ‘Historic reserves’ uses essentially the same wordings, adding protections of historical sites. It adds (e) except where the Minister otherwise determines, the indigenous flora and fauna and natural environment shall as far as possible be preserved … (My emphasis.)
8. § 23 ‘Local purpose reserves’ makes similar requirements regarding managing and protecting biological or natural features, conserving forest etc.
9. Note that Maungakiekie northern land and Māngere Mountain are administered lands meaning the Crown owns them, but TMA administers them for purposes of Reserves Act.
10. Whole point is: TMA has failed in its duty and obligations pursuant to § 17, 18, 23 of Reserves Act 1977 in respect of Ōhiuarangi, Mangere Maunga and Maungarei in that TMA has (a) destroyed the pleasantness, harmony and cohesion of the natural environment of these maunga by their indiscriminate and insensitive felling operations, (b) harmed irrevocably the use and enjoyment of the reserves (c) damaged their value as soil, water and forest conservation areas through felling and failure to revegetate(d) destroyed flora, fauna and wildlife through indiscriminate felling of trees and insensitive, polluting planting practices(e) destroyed flora, fauna and wildlife through mismangement allowing unacceptable fire risks to lead to wild fires (f) caused environmental harm by decreasing slope stability, increasing soil erosion and depleting tree cover.
Image by Eric Von Dutch: place-holder pending approval.
Ka ora te Whenua, ka ora te tangata.
“Tiwaiwaka is a collective of people committed to healing the mauri of the whenua.
We bring together our gifts and abilities, matauranga, skills and experience, and networks throughout Aotearoa, many groups and individuals, all committed to realising this vision, each in our own way, regardless of culture, religion, beliefs, history, etc.
It works by sharing this vision and empowering more and people to give it effect. We share a common voice that in time will embrace the whole of Aotearoa.
By following the Principles of Tiwaiwaka we have a way forwards that gives us hope for the future.”
Download, at no cost, Robert (Pa) McGowan’s short but inspiring guide to the way forward: Tiwaiwaka.
NB: If sound doesn’t work, try another browser (works on Chrome, Safari)