345 exotic trees get the chop

By D'Angelo Martin

Protesters have gathered at the heel of Ōwairaka (Mt Albert) today in a bid to save 345 exotic trees, a decision that was finalised by Auckland Council, The Tūpuna Maunga Authority and a company called Treescape.

The exotic trees will be replaced by native trees as part of a restoration programme to reinforce native wildlife and native vegetation, but the locals of the area and protesters are not happy.

The trees that are already there are home to a variety of native life including the Rūrū bird, the Tui, the Kōtare and hundreds of insects that call those trees home, will be homeless. Those who attended this morning's protest are concerned that an environmental disaster could be the end result.

Anna Radford, spokesperson for Honour the Maunga, says "It isn't just Mt Albert that is suffering from the clearing of exotic trees but all maunga in Auckland are facing this sad reality and there will be extreme environmental impacts."

Radford hopes that this plan could be reconsidered and is not wanting to step on the aspirations of The Tūpuna Maunga Authority, as she does support their vision. But what Radford doesn't support, is the process of how they're going about it.

"We're here to give a voice to those who can't speak, we're here for the trees the birds the creatures and look the Tui are here feeding on the berries of the exotic tree because of it provides a valuable food source for them."
 
Lisa Prager spokesperson for Occupy Garnet Rd says, "We've come in support of the locals who reside here in Mt Albert, we also come in support to the native life who will lose their homes today. Somehow they think that birds will fly to another tree and everything will be fine, but that's not true."

Protestors have been present at Mt Albert since 6 am, they plan to create a human blockade to stop heavy machinery from entering the area.

Te Ao Maori News made several attempts to contact the Tūpuna Maunga Authority for comment, but they replied that they currently unavailable.