Johno Smith explains why he tried to save the Titirangi Kauri

Written By: - Date published: 11:20 am, January 20th, 2016 - 44 comments
Categories: Conservation, Environment - Tags: ,

johno smith paturoa kauri-1

Johno Smith has appeared today in the Waitakere District Court charged with trespass after his climbing of the Paturoa Road Kauri in an effort to save it. He has pleaded guilty to the charge. He has released a press release that sets out his reasons why he did this. These are his reasons:

I will plead guilty to Wilful Trespass and take full accountability for my actions. I shouldn’t have to break the law to protect our environment for future generations. Legislation should be in place to ensure our planet remains habitable.

Recent law reforms under the National Government have seen a greater proportion of mature trees being removed across the country; we need to act quickly if we want to preserve our Urban Forests by implementing a better form of tree protection.

Leading overseas cities have Urban Forest Strategies in place that are vital for the health and wellbeing of their communities. The National Government’s failure to protect our Urban Forests means New Zealand is falling behind


44 comments on “Johno Smith explains why he tried to save the Titirangi Kauri”

  1. indiana 1

    He could have made an offer and brought the property to fulfill his obligation to protect the environment for future generations. Urban forests like Cornwall Park are well protected – I don’t think the definition of urban forest should be extended to private property.

    • shari 1.1

      People have tried your suggestion. The owners want to sell it for more than its worth

      • James 1.1.1

        Who sets whats its worth – I would say they wanted to pay less than it was worth.

        Value is set by what a willing seller and a willing buyer can agree on.

    • ianmac 1.2

      Indiana I just bought the section next door to you. I will raze the section and bring in my Bikie mates to build a fort for nonstop partying.
      “I don’t think the definition of urban forest should be extended to private property.”
      You are so right. What happens in my patch is my business. You certainly won’t have any rights to stop me.

      • indiana 1.2.1

        ianmac, why are you comparing apples with oranges? I have no opposition to you razing your section – I’ll probably get more sunlight! As for the general causing of nuisance, fat chance you’ll get away with that.

        Shari, I’d sell it for more than what its worth too, if someone opposes me from developing my property within the guidelines of the council rules. If Johno feels so strongly about the future, why doesn’t he plant 20 trees in an area where development would not take place – its a cheaper option than buying someones property to save 1 tree.

        • Wensleydale

          This is a kauri tree. You can’t just pop down to King’s Plant Barn and say, “Morning Helen! I’ll take that lovely kauri in the pot over there, thanks!”

        • Draco T Bastard

          ianmac, why are you comparing apples with oranges?

          He’s not.

          If you do something that affects someone else then that someone else has full veto rights to stop you. Doesn’t matter if it’s on your property or not.

          Shari, I’d sell it for more than what its worth too, if someone opposes me from developing my property within the guidelines of the council rules.

          The problem is, of course, that the RWNJs have been undermining the rules so that people can do whatever they want ignoring that basic human right I mentioned above.

          • indiana

            “If you do something that affects someone else then that someone else has full veto rights to stop you. Doesn’t matter if it’s on your property or not.”

            The sheer lunacy of this statement means that a person that lives in Wellington can stop a tree being felled in Auckland just because it “affects” them. Oh wait I’m comparing apples to oranges….my bad. By the way, cutting down a tree to build another house has nothing to do with human rights.

            • Draco T Bastard

              The sheer lunacy of this statement means that a person that lives in Wellington can stop a tree being felled in Auckland just because it “affects” them.

              No they can’t because cutting a tree down in Auckland doesn’t affect anyone in Wellington.

              By the way, cutting down a tree to build another house has nothing to do with human rights.

              Of course it does. It has to do with the right to live in a liveable community.

    • Rewa 1.3

      How is Cornwall park protected?

    • Andre 1.4

      The sole parliamentary representative of a party of fundamentalist property rights extremists has said “No, what I’m arguing for is if the people of Epsom have bought into certain property rights and the character of their community. And when people buy…”

      Why does that apply to Epsom, but not to me and my neighbours?

      Read more:

      Furthermore, as far as I can tell, zoning for the area allows up to 150 sqm of bush per section (for small sections like those) to be cleared for a building site. Eyeballing what’s been cleared, I estimate around 450 sqm per section has actually been cleared, with more trees marked with a fluoro X still for the chop. How did that happen?

    • Erika 1.5

      FYI: the urban forest consists of every tree that exists, regardless of property ownership, in the urban environment limits, as defined by the study, management and field of urban forestry in N America.

  2. weka 2

    Anyone know what’s happened to the tree? And the people who ringbarked it?

  3. savenz 3

    +1 Johno Smith – Good on you for trying to save this ancient tree.

    Any news on the developers and why burying the tree in a 70 page report and being able to refer to it as ‘high grade vegetation’ is still allowable?

    Has the Auckland council planners learnt any lessons from the debacle – probably NOT.

    The way Auckland council planner interpret the planning rules are to charge a fortune to give the resource consent but not bother to actually mitigate any effects to the environment and neighbours or place any importance to the significance of the area (i.e. Titirangi known for bush). Soon Titirangi will be New Lynn.

    Maybe the New Lynn homeless youths can camp there.

    Nice to know you can ringbark a tree before a judicial review and get away with it as a developer.

  4. greywarshark 4

    This is the sort of attitude that applied when settlers first came to NZ. and I am talking about after Maori. What people who arrived in a people powered canoe that they rowed and sailed themselves with their own charts and seasmanship did, would be understandable for then.

    Story in local about a neighbour drilling into shelterbelt trees for an orchard and using diesel to kill them. They know who was the likely man, police have spoken to him.
    He denies it and appears likely to get away with it. In these times with trees being so important this is a serious crime, and someone cutting down a long established tree or interfering with trees that are part of someone’s business plan and particularly when established before the neighbour bought, need to be dealt with severely.
    See p5 on
    (I think it will be accessible on this link.)

    I wonder if there if Johno needs help with his expenses? And how.

    • Katy 4.1

      Yes he does- there is one man collecting for him .. If you follow him on Facebook you can see that..

  5. Clare Elliott 5

    This vandalism-the felling of ancient trees-just recently passed-probably on the urgings of various interested parties,like property speculators,who have destroyed so much else of our scant heritage….is endorsed by the ridiculous excuse for a council that has made a mess of Auckland’s’other treasures-the waterfront,soon the domain…and -from personal experience-totally destroyed the americas Cup in 2000…they are a bunch of sad self interested businessmen-small,grey men-with no vision or humanity…I’m embarrassed to be an Aucklander-especially after reading the drivel in the thread.-..

  6. Ad 6

    Good on you Jono. This developer will not win.

    The Auckland Council do not have anywhere near enough real environmentalists elected.

    Whoever is Councillor in Auckland’s Waitakere Ward: you are now an electoral target this year. Believe it.

  7. One Anonymous Bloke 7

    I hope this ensures citizens will be better prepared next time.

    The obvious response to the ringbarking once it’s occurred is to make sure the landowners face the consequences. If the courts can’t help perhaps market forces can be brought to bear. Failing that, I’m a big fan of monkeywrenching and other forms of self-defence. Not everyone’s cup of tea but.

  8. Scott M 8

    Any blame lies squarely at the feet of National Party.

    They banned tree protections in district plans and then step back and let the Council take the rap.

    Typical cowardly/ dishonest behaviour by them.

  9. maui 9

    Legend, along with Tavares who kickstarted this. I’m sure there are many locals who have worked in the background as well to bring attention to this.

  10. Phil Bonham 10

    I read enough comments to want to add my bit. A man’s (or woman’s) home is his his/her castle, is an old saying that many relate to, including myself. However, it is not true that one can do whatever you want on your own urban property – the council will have all kinds of restrictions on what you can build, alter, take down, landscape, and even plant. This will vary from town to town and even within the different zones of a town. Titirangi, the town in question, has a special character of being next to a large forest reserve. Many of the houses and even central parts of town have youngish kauri trees that make Titirangi the delight that it is. With the changes to regulations city wide, it would be a shame to see a president for home owners in special character areas to remove these slow growing native trees

    On the other hand, long term, it is obvious that all of these trees can’t be left to live and die at maturity because they would be so huge that no sunlight or or infrastructure for human habitation would exist. Therefore, the regulations need to be tailored to each district and community so that both the trees and community can be effectively sustained without willy nilly eradication of trees.

    • Scott M 10.1

      Very reasonable position Phil. And yet that is the very approach the National Party legislated against.

      Even if the majority of residents in Titirangi decided they wished to protect established trees in their neighbourhood as part of the character of the area, the Council is prohibited from doing so by the RMA!

  11. left for deadshark 11

    All those in support of Jonno , big up’s, RWNJ’s,…head shake, with rights, comes responsibility.
    Stop being plonkers. 👿

  12. Mich 12

    Vancouver had a similar issue to Auckland; both developers and home buyers, of existing properties, were removing trees from private properties.

    So, in 2014 Malcolm Bromley, the city’s general manager of parks addressed the issue for Vancouver by introducing a new bylaw about tree removal from Private Property. This bylaw does not just cover ‘Protected’ trees as in Auckland.

    “We are doing this because since 1996 over 23,000 healthy trees — at least eight inches in diameter at chest height — have been removed, which isn’t helping our objective of stopping the decline in the tree (canopy) and of growing an urban forest in Vancouver,” According to a report to council, there has been a drastic decline in the city’s forest canopy since 1996, with most of the decline occurring on private property.

    The council’s bylaw……’affects all private property owners in Vancouver wanting to remove a tree. If you want to remove a tree, you need a tree removal permit for every tree that has a diameter (width) of 20 cm or greater, measured at 1.4 m above the ground. A tree trunk with a diameter of 20 cm will have a circumference of approximately 64 cm.’

    I understand that to introduce this type of bylaw would mean an increase in council administration; however the council needs to start somewhere to stop, as Phil Bonham says, the willy nilly eradication of trees.

  13. Bonito 13

    Well done Johno Smith and Michael Tavares before him. Most of Titirangi like these sections are Significant Ecological Areas and protected by the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act. Has everyone forgotten the millions of dollars our Government is spending on Kauri Dieback meanwhile consents like these are being granted by Auckland Council to fell healthy Kauri. What a waste of our money!

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