Whose tree is it?

Who owns this tree?

A protester is going into a second day 25 metres up a kauri in Titirangi, vowing to hang in there until the tree is safe.

The owners of the property have consent to cut down the 500-year-old tree and a 300-year-old rimu, but some locals have been vocal in their opposition. . .

Police issued Mr Tavares a verbal trespass notice yesterday afternoon.

Auckland Council had allowed the removal of the trees so developers John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith could build two homes.

The council said it was satisfied all measures were being taken to minimise the effects of the tree removal and ecological value of the site.

It said the developers had chosen to build the homes close to the road to minimise the number of trees that need to be removed.

The council said it understood people’s concerns but the zoning on these sites allowed for development if environmental effects were considered. . .

This tree is on private property.

It doesn’t belong to the protesters or the council.

It belongs to the people who own the property.

They have gone through the expensive process of getting consent for their plans and have chosen to site the homes to minimise the impact they’ll have on the trees.

Those wanting to protect the tree are trampling over the property rights of the owner.

They will also be putting other people off planting trees for fear that they, or those who come after them, will have their property rights threatened.

52 Responses to Whose tree is it?

  1. Andrei says:

    Melbourne bush fires of 2009 – many lost their homes because they were not allowed to bowl the trees surrounding their properties which meant when they caught fire there was no firebreak to prevent their homes joining in the conflagration

    I do like trees though, they have their place but not when they get entangled in my powerlines


  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    This will always be a hard debate on a blog like this where property rights are probably considered sacrosanct. An alternative view is that we should be considered guardians of the land and should look after it for future generations. Ownership of land can be seen in different ways and even on the properties I own, I am restricted in what I can do. This is mostly fair enough because some things that I could do on my own land could have a negative impact on others. I am sure if I decided to fell the bush on my Catlins property there would be huge concern as it connects to a bush reserve and is beside a public area used by tourists (although i am probably entitled to do this.

    It appears to me that if we took things to the utmost extreme, Ele, you would say that even if the kauri concerned was the last one existing in New Zealand the owners of the land should be entitled to remove it if they wanted to.

    Also any land is actually a living, functioning ecosystem and strongly connected to all that surrounds it. It is considered unacceptable to maltreat animals that are supposedly owned be individuals, it is totally unacceptable to mistreat children and it seems perfectly logical to have limits on mistreating our land.


  3. Andrei says:

    Dave in order to live we have to modify our environment. it is a fact of life unless you want to live in a cave, naked as the day you were born and subsist on wild berries.

    Do you mow your lawns btw? Is this mistreating the land?


  4. homepaddock says:

    I like trees and we’ve planted thousands, natives and exotics; shelter belts and amenity plantings.

    Clear-felling bush, which would be taking it to the extreme, is usually not permitted.

    This example isn’t extreme, the property owner has permission to fell this one tree and has chosen to site the homes closer to the road to protect others, that is not taking anything to the extreme.


  5. Paranormal says:

    In addition to Andrei’s point, what are the other unintended consequences of your approach DK?

    One of my old neighbours went around his property topping anything over a metre in height as he didn’t want to lose control of what was his on his property. This was at a time when Manukau City Council took ownership control of trees over 2.5metres away from the property owner. That is surely not a good thing for anyone?

    What about trees that are overgrown/old/dangerous. Who is responsible for the damage they cause? If somone’s ownership rights are removed by the collective, why are they responsible for the property anymore?

    When everyone owns the property, no-one is responsible for it.


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    I am talking about what would be considered a reasonable balance between private and public interests and protecting notable natural flora of significance for future generations. Considering the current plight of our kauri, every significant kauri (this one has been aged between 200 and 500 years) should not be able to be disregarded in such an off hand way. I am looking for some middle ground for dealing with situations like this and it appears that all others here think that the kauri should be felled, which is rather sad. I also asked the question that if this were the last kauri left would you think it reasonable to allow the landowner to remove it? I am interested to know how far you would push property rights.

    The examples of old and diseased trees has nothing to do with this situation.

    While I would like to see this particular tree saved, I also think we don’t see the potential of commercially grown natives that could be planted instead of pinus radiata. Kauri actually grows relatively quickly initially and there would be considerable commercial value in 20-30 year old Kauri.



  7. farmerbraun says:

    Trees grow old and die; old trees are cut down and replaced .
    So what?

    These folk can plant as many kauri as they like ; if they cut one down that is their concern.

    It seems that in the view of a certain minority terrorism is a very good thing when it is “eco-terrorism”.


  8. Mr E says:

    “should not be able to be disregarded in such an off hand way”

    The tree removal abides by the RMA.
    A law established by democracy, by THE PEOPLE. The council tested the tree removal using the RMA and the Council, governed by democratically selected people, selected by THE PEOPLE approved the removal of the trees.

    What is “off hand” about all this democracy Dave? After all this Green Party promotion about not having a left or right attitude, why is it your views sound to me like socialism, boarding on communism?


  9. Dave Kennedy says:

    In this case it seems that a better process that could have been followed wasn’t. I think we just have a different value set when it comes to significant native trees. I hardly think that this could be called eco-terrorism.


  10. Ray says:

    I hardly think that this could be called eco-terrorism.
    No…….That comes later when the eco-loons
    Don’t get their own way.

    From the link…
    If the tress come down then so should the houses that are built in their place.
    Burn the fucking things down, and when they are rebuilt burn em again. –

    Was that the “better process ” you were thinking of, Mr Kennedy?


  11. RBG says:

    Homepaddock, claiming that people trying to save these trees will put people off planting trees is a bit too much of a stretch. You say that these trees are to be felled to protect other trees on the property. What are the other trees? How old are they and how many would supposedly have to be removed if the kauri and rimu are kept?


  12. RBG says:

    Ray, you’ve linked to a comment by some nutcase advocating arson. Any sane person knows such comments have no place in this discussion about trees and property rights. Other than using it to make (yet another) nasty comment about Dave Kennedy, what the hell was your point?


  13. homepaddock says:

    RBG @ 9:08 – http://www.stephenfranks.co.nz/tree-idiots/
    “We can’t afford the risk that if we grow natives we might not be allowed to clear building sites. Even if allowed we could have to pay $000s in RMA proceedings fighting neighbours or dopey Council “environmental advisers” for permission to deal with our own trees.

    Only the environment loses when idiots who delight in bossing others around can disguise their nastiness as concern for trees.”


  14. RBG says:

    So you and Stephen Franks believe that people who don’t want to see a 500 year kauri felled are really just nasty idiots who delight in bossing others around?


  15. Andrei says:

    RGB in what way will the people making a fuss loose if this tree is felled?

    If it remains standing what will they do with it?

    Or having had their triumph will they ever even set their eyes upon it again and go on to find something else to make a fuss about?

    Have you ever even seen this tree or heard of it before now?

    Why bother about something that is not part of your daily existence and is not really anything to do with you and has no impact upon you?


  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    “when idiots who delight in bossing others around can disguise their nastiness as concern for trees.”

    Goodness me, Ele, that was a fairly heavy statement.

    I think the point about this particular situation was the process used before the property was given development consent. The tree in question was obviously significant but wasn’t identified. We are not talking about something the current owner grew themselves.

    Believe it or not there are some people who do just care about trees and good process. Much of the concern about the tree is actually coming from the local community who were not consulted as they could have been using the RMA.


  17. Dave Kennedy says:

    “locals had been shocked to discover the council would approve of the destruction of the tree without any public consultation”


  18. RBG says:

    Andrei says ‘why bother about something that is not part of your daily existance and is not really anything to do with you and has no impact upon you?’. Thats an odd question from someone who I thought cared about human rights of people in other countries. I ‘bother’ because I’m not a narrow minded, self centred, blinkered person. Didn’t think you were either.


  19. Andrei says:

    I do care about people RBG and their welfare and well being.

    I love people

    We are all part of the human race and when one of us suffers it is contingent upon us to do what we can of alleviate that suffering.

    Part of what makes us human to care about our brothers and sisters

    Trees are not people and as far as I know do not experience anything, they just grow


  20. Mr E says:

    If you really believe this is about process, you will condemn the actions of these protestors. The developers are not responsible for defining the process, yet they are the victims of this protest.
    The protestors are hurting private people, when your suggestion indicates their focus should be elsewhere.


  21. homepaddock says:

    RBG – I quoted Stephen in response to your query if anyone would not plant trees because they fear the loss of their property rights. Click the link and read the context.

    I understand why people wouldn’t want the tree to come down. I do not understand why they think they have the right to infringe the property rights of someone else who has done everything legally and wants to site the homes to minimise the loss of trees.

    We had a beautiful magnolia in our garden which had to come out when we altered the house. I was sad but we have since planted several more, well away from any buildings, which people who are here long after we’ve gone will enjoy.


  22. RBG says:

    New Zealand does not have a heritage of 500 year old buildings as in other parts of the world, our heritage is the natural and ancient flora, such as the kauri at the centre of this dispute. It is not comparable to an exotic garden tree such as a magnolia.
    People are more important than trees and if these trees were endangering people they would have to go Andrei, but they are not.


  23. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think we need to back up a little in this discussion and be clear on the facts:
    -We are talking about a kauri tree that has been described as 500 years old.
    -Kauri trees of this age are highly significant trees for those who genuinely care about our natural heritage especially because they are relatively rare and they are being threatened by kauri die back.
    -The protest is being led by the local community who don’t want this to become a political football.
    -Legal process was followed but it appears that it was done without an understanding of the significance of some of the trees involved.
    -This is not an example of eco-terrorism (this is emotive nonsense) but local community action in an open, nonviolent and transparent way.
    -One cannot compare a 500 year old Kauri with a domestic magnolia tree.
    -Similar community action and protests have saved other significant trees around New Zealand like the Pohutakawa trees that were going to be removed for a motorway development. http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/local-board-fight-to-save-pohutukawa-trees-2015012023#axzz3Tymg1mCg

    I guess this just comes down to the perceived value of the particular tree involved and whether a 500 year old kauri tree should be regarded as important to protect in the national interest. This is not something that will be quickly rectified by planting another, it will take around 25 human generations to produce another like it. I would hope that some sort of compromise could occur and even compensation to the landowner or developer who have acted legally and will be disadvantaged.


  24. Andrei says:

    Dave on one hand we are talking about a housing crisis in Auckland and lamenting the cost of houses in Auckland

    And on the other we are blocking the building of new houses and making the process developing new houses more expensive

    What do you, a resident of the South Island I understand, want?

    To me this is a really local issue to be decided by the local people who are in the best position to determine where their own priorities lie.


  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    I Andrei:
    -Is a 500 year old kauri of national significance?
    -Is this going to be a low cost housing development?

    I thought this was a community protest.


  26. farmerbraun says:

    All trees are equal.

    Some trees are more equal than others


  27. farmerbraun says:

    Any community may contain a minority of busybodies.
    The busybodies are not the community.
    This is therefore not a community protest.
    It is a busybody protest.


  28. Ray says:

    Ray, you’ve linked to a comment by some nutcase advocating arson.
    The only nutcase is IN the tree


  29. Quintin Hogg says:

    Some comments.
    The area where this tree stands was clear felled in the 1870s -1890s.
    If anything the tree is regrowth that has occurred since that time.
    It is a small specimen and a mere stripling in contrast to many others in the Waitakeres.
    The age of the tree is between 100-150 years not the 500 quoted. if it was 500 it would be quite a bit bigger.
    I gather from the application that the option was to cut down one or two trees and build beside the road, rather than build down the hill and cut down quite a significant area of bush.
    the owners are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.


  30. JC says:

    Kauri in the area are well represented in the adjacent Waitakeres so there’s nothing unique about this tree.

    If the tree didn’t have Kauri dieback it will soon with all the hordes of people tramping around its roots and importing the phytophthora causing the dieback in the area. It also has a car wide formed track that runs into the trunk.. so its doomed.

    Check Google Earth.. Paturoa Rd in Titirangi is really high forest with a few houses dotted into it.. I question how unique these trees could be.

    It is a *uniquely* ugly tree.. a stag headed beast with massive branches low down.. which indicates it was quite young when the track/road was put in and/or when the area facing the road was cleared.

    The RMA seems to have worked here.. there is no need to protect a tree that isn’t unique to the area, its doomed because of the compaction of the road and undoubted rot in the tree crutches and its dangerous because its big limbs are unprotected by neighboring trees in strong winds. (Thats why its top has been lost).

    From what I can see the tree’s properties do not override property rights in this case.



  31. robertguyton says:

    I sincerely hope the tree remains standing for another 500 years..


  32. Ray says:

    Mr Kennedy has estimated the tree’s age at ” between 200 and 500
    Another says “I sincerely hope the tree remains standing for another 500 years..”
    How old is the tree?
    Counting the growth rings on the stump seems the surest way to settle the argument.


  33. robertguyton says:

    Ray – you sincerely hope the tree is cut down?


  34. Ray says:

    There are many things that warrant “sincerity”.
    The felling of this tree is not one of those things.
    What I and many others hope for (in vain), is that once the consents and permits for developments of this kind, are approved by Councils or whatever, private property is respected by all. “Rabid greenies” included.

    The council said it was satisfied all measures were being taken to minimise the effects of the tree removal and ecological value of the site.


  35. robertguyton says:

    You don’t sincerely want to see the tree cut down then, Ray.
    Your “counting the growth rings” comment is insincere then, as I suspected.
    Why the insincerity on this topic.
    I’m sincere. Dave’s sincere.
    You? Not so much.


  36. robertguyton says:

    And Ray, it’s pleasing to see your absolute faith in councils and their decisions. Mr E would be proud!


  37. Ray says:

    I know rational thinking is a stretch for you at this time in the evening, Mr Guyton, but do try to address the subject.
    Faith I reserve for deities, respect I reserve for the law.


  38. Mr E says:

    You think this council has failed to do it’s duty?


  39. robertguyton says:

    The subject, Ray, is the kauri. I hope it remains aloft for many, many years to come.
    Mr E, I made no reference at all to the council. My concerns are with the future of the tree. The failure I see here, is of the human spirit. How could a person choose to fell such a tree, in this day and age.


  40. robertguyton says:

    Ray, it appears, is an example of someone who’s spirit is failed, given that he wishes the tree cut down so as to examine its growth rings. Such is the callous spirit of some people in this place and time.


  41. Dave Kennedy says:

    I think Quintin is right the tree is probably 100-200 years old, not the 500 hundred claimed, so it will only take about 5+ human generations to replace it.

    Farmerbraun has dismissed the local people protesting as mere busybodies rather than representing community interests. By 1pm yesterday 13,500 busybodies signed a petition wanting to save the tree.

    The Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry wants to look into the issue further but said:

    “As a general rule I don’t want to see kauri cut down. We want to save them, I don’t know why the council have granted it consent.”

    We have lots of people here expressing strong opinions on what should happen and making judgements about the people protesting. However people I know who have met with the protesters say that many are from the local community and live on neighbouring properties. They live in the area because of the bush and are upset that what they see as a significant tree is threatened and are concerned that they weren’t consulted. They don’t want this to become a political football and would like to have it addressed at a community level.

    People not connected with the community or have not viewed the tree themselves should be careful what they say. There have been a lot of very abusive and judgmental comments made that may not be well informed. Despite my political background I would be interested in what Maggie Barry finds out through her own research as she may have a more measured and thoughtful approach than many here.

    It does seem as if the pioneering spirit of our european axe weilding forefathers lives on here 😉


  42. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops “wielding”


  43. TraceyS says:

    I agree with Andrei. This is a matter for the local community. If the community (plus hangers on) care sufficiently then they should apply for a Court injunction and seek a judicial review of the Council’s decision.

    It is sad that this has become a national issue. This is indicative of a large population of bored individuals with not enough to occupy either their thoughts or their time.


  44. Dave Kennedy says:

    You are also partly agreeing with me too, Tracey, except that Maggie Barry may find that the tree concerned has national significance, if there is sound evidence for this then perhaps it could be a national issue.


  45. Ray says:

    However people I know who have met with the protesters say that many are from the local community and live on neighbouring properties. They live in the area because of the bush and are upset that what they see as a significant tree is threatened

    Of course there may be another agenda present .

    This from the owners of the land.
    “We question the motivation of some involved in the campaign, as we have been faced with opposition from some neighbours who would prefer that the land is not built on, which benefits them without them having to actually purchase the land. This has escalated and, we believe, played a part in this emotive campaign.”


  46. farmerbraun says:

    “It does seem as if the pioneering spirit of our european axe weilding forefathers lives on here ”

    You do yourself no credit with deliberate falsehoods like that Dave.
    You would be hard -put to find a dairy farm in the Manawatu with more old native trees than are present on mine ; matai ,totara, kahikatea , kowhai, tarata, matipo, Hoheria , Macropiper etc . etc.


  47. robertguyton says:

    Here’s a man who respects his native trees. Could you go and have a word in the ear of the developer, farmerbraun. He fails to understand the value of his tree, wanting as he does, to cut it down.


  48. robertguyton says:

    Tracey says “it’s a matter for the local community”, but then goes on to tell them what they should do!
    That’s funny. Surely they can decide what actions they choose to take. I doubt they need direction from Tracey-from-Otago.


  49. farmerbraun says:

    I think the developer should simply plant ten trees for every one that he may need to remove.
    Large trees, native or exotic, within falling distance of a habitation will ultimately cause problems.
    There really is no issue here.
    Except for the trespass issue, that is.


  50. JC says:

    FB, the road where the Kauri grows is choked with large trees.. the road itself is invisible except for a few metres because large trees overhang it.

    The tree sitter is an unemployed Green from Australia who has form for this sort of stunt. He and some fellow Greens have been in a running fight with Council over these sorts of issues for some time.



  51. farmerbraun says:

    People involved in silviculture understand that trees have to be managed.
    It is unfortunate that there appears to be no moves to address the rampant growth of trees in unsuitable locations.
    Any burst of strong wind seems to result in an overgrown tree falling onto power lines somewhere.
    A bit of common sense is needed.


  52. TraceyS says:

    I was outlining the legal options, Robert. Should protesters and opposers follow the options available to them which are legal rather than illegal? Bottom line, of course they should!


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