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Save the Pohutukawa Six

Written By: - Date published: 9:28 am, January 3rd, 2015 - 34 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, Conservation, Environment, transport - Tags:

Motat pohutukawa

At this time of year you get to really appreciate the Pohutukawa Tree.  It seems everywhere I have been lately there has been this wonderful red/green splash of colour.  Mother nature is telling us what sort of Government she thinks should be in power!

There is a group of elderly Pohutukawa that do their best to shield Auckland’s MOTAT from the motorway and beautify the local area.  They have grown in the area for a number of years and provide a pleasant splash of nature in an area that is otherwise very urban.

Auckland Transport want to cut them down so that it can build another lane of road.

The decision has caused a great deal of local opposition.  Patrick Reynolds at the Transport Blog has been advocating against the proposal.  I am pleased that the Waitemata Local Board chaired by Shale Chambers has come out in opposition.  And Russel Brown at Public Address has also posted on the issue.

The Local Board’s position was very well formulated.  It took the opportunity to engage its own lawyer and expert advisers to oppose Auckland Transport’s application for a notice of requirement in relation to the trees.  As Board Chair Shale Chambers put it:

I want to put the Local Board’s position in clear terms. As I understand it, Auckland Transport has identified its preferred option based on certain transport outcomes it wishes to achieve but at the expense of the trees. The proposal will have a significantly adverse effect on the environment because the intersection will lose a number of trees of real heritage, environmental and amenity value. But on Auckland Transport’s own evidence, supplemented by the evidence of our own traffic engineer, another option, yet to be explored in any great detail, would achieve almost all of the same beneficial traffic outcomes.

Unfortunately the Hearings Panel rejected the Board’s position and have approved the removal of the trees.  If you want a fuller description of the process local board member Vernon Tava provides a very clear outline here.

This particular issue highlights the loss of democratic control that the Super City reform has caused.  If a local community wants to protect its iconic trees then why should an unelected entity overrule them?  And why does Auckland Transport think that a further lane of congestion inducing transport problems is preferable to the retention of some magnificent trees?

I regret it may be too late.  But if you want to do something you could start by signing the petition and the trees have their own twitter account if you want to follow what is happening.

34 comments on “Save the Pohutukawa Six ”

  1. Clemgeopin 1

    Those look so beautiful as shown by the drone linked in the petition. I have just signed the petition.

    Curious to know more about the other options as stated in ” But on Auckland Transport’s own evidence, supplemented by the evidence of our own traffic engineer, another option, yet to be explored in any great detail, would achieve almost all of the same beneficial traffic outcomes’

    How about a flyover?

  2. saveNZ 2

    Disgusting. Planning in Auckland is under attack. There is no democracy just the ‘pretence of democracy’. The decision is already decided by a few officials in planning. Kill nature and amenity for the public because some council or traffic official decides that. Make the ratepayers pay. Once stupidity takes course it is difficult to appeal it.

    Auckland planning decisions are so ridiculous and short sighted. For example the Western Motorway at great public expense being extended but with no dedicated bus lane apparently (and no real train links) is an example of simplistic stupidity in action (or maybe corruption, who knows).

    Look what they did to the CBD of Auckland with their stupid planning of Apartments and parks.

    Now trying to take over the suburbs, like this example of the removal of beautiful trees that no doubt the poor people living near by currently enjoy, but will instead be replaced by more traffic. Meanwhile local kids trying to get to Motat on foot will encounter an ‘American Style’ highway of traffic. Many tourists and others also go there will not encounter the lovely trees which should have been preserved on route. Hopefully someone can appeal the decision. But the appeal process itself is very undemocratic and Auckland planning department is out of control and a law on to itself. Even the councillors can’t get much headway into their stupid decisions.

    • Sacha 2.1

      It’s not correct to blame Council planners for this mess (or for what I agree is a disgusting lack of a busway amidst billions of dollars spent on the various western ring motorway projects).

      There are several agencies involved, including the national NZTA which controls the motorways and Auckland Transport (AT) which controls the local road network.

      Auckland Council manages land use outside the road corridors and the overall environmental and social impacts of all activity on behalf of current and future residents and vistors to the region. The Auckland Plan spells out their overall intent for the next few decades.

      The Local Board is the elected part of Council that represents the interests of residents in this particular area, and they are the legal landowner of these trees. there may be some wriggle-room there to save these trees.

      Though AT supposedly reports to Auckland Council, Steven Joyce changed the law so the Minister of Transport sets the overall funding allocation and appoints some of its Board members. Planning laws also allow several avenues for national agencies to pre-empt local priorities, especially for transport projects.

      Transport planning as a profession is excessively focused on the flow of cars and trucks, and has little sense of being about people. Traffic projections for the end of day peak commute in 2026 are why they say they must destroy these trees now. Heaven forbid some cars might have to wait a minute longer.

    • Molly 2.2

      Rodney Hide ensured that Auckland Transport and Auckland Council were completely separated during the formation of Auckland Council.

      So Auckland Council planners have to go through the same procedures as other stakeholders to have their concerns addressed when Auckland Transport planners decide on a preferred option.

  3. Sounds a lot like the Basin Reserve flyover process, someone (or several someones) just loooooooooooooves cars and thinks (despite all evidence) that making more room for cars will miraaaaaaaculously speed up travel times and damn the environment, the local community, or the actual practicalities of the situation.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    If Auckland Transport should be doing anything it should be removing roads and doing stuff like this:

    There were protests in the streets, and allegations of class warfare and political favours. Even by Vancouver standards, the debate over the city’s latest bike lane grew especially heated.

    But nearly one year after a stretch of Point Grey Road closed to vehicles, the city says the bike route that was later installed is often the busiest in Vancouver and the plan to shift traffic to major arterial roads has worked.

    Due to global warming and the pollution that’s killing hundreds of NZers every year we should not be encouraging more cars but discouraging them and encouraging more bicycles and public transport.

    • adam 4.1

      In Auckland Draco T Bastard, where cyclists are seen as targets and even being parked in a car park away from traffic is no defence for your bike not being hit. Auckland were lines on the road, will do. Were car drivers think it OK to just drive down a cycle lane.

      I was in Nelson recently, and the had a good collection of Bike roads. Some great – away from cars and not just lines on a road – and some not so good. The whole region seemed more bike focused than NZ’s main city.

      Man I use to love cycling under those trees.

  5. Heather tanguay 5

    They are such a feature of Auck land, it is astonishing the complete disregard to the views expressed by the community, including the Local Board.
    I am new to Auckland, is that the Pohutakawa on the logo for the Super City? Seems funny if it is.

  6. Heather tanguay 6

    They are such a feature of Auck land, it is astonishing the complete disregard to the views expressed by the community, including the Local Board.
    I am new to Auckland, is that the Pohutakawa on the logo for the Super City? Seems funny if it is.

  7. Murray Rawshark 7

    What do they want another lane for? So more people can get to the next traffic jam? Leave the trees alone.

    • tc 7.1

      +1 the problem isnt the road, its that too many cars are being funnelled onto the western motorway which reduces even further as it enters the port/sth/cbd exits.

      Its backed up because the motorway is jammed, the road is fine and those trees iconic to the area. Wait till chamberlain park is a suburb not a golf course so its totally built up with all the extra traffic.

      This is typical ‘do something make yourself look busy’ rather than address the real issue which is public transport and getting the cars off the roads.

      Pointless protesting about it, rortney and key didnt design supercity for the great unwashed to have an actual say just make it appear as if they do.

  8. les 8

    I say knock em over…there is no shortage of pohutukawas.

    • indiana 8.1

      …perhaps a better compromise if that can be made would be to plant 3 times as many trees that will be felled, in a zone that will never be earmarked for road widening…say the Domain. Though I believe that this type of rational thinking will not thwart those planning to chain themselves to save 6 trees.

      • les 8.1.1

        goods idea.

        • Maui

          Except planting 18 new five year old trees somewhere completely different to where the six 80-year-old trees were isn’t exactly a great offset..

      • It’s not “rational thinking” at all when you deliberately ignore why people are protesting the removal of these trees. The trees, as they are, where they are, are an incredibly important part of making that stretch of road not look like an LA-style concrete desert, and the reasons for removing them don’t hold water.

        Saying “duh just plant more trees in an area that’s already green” is irrelevant.

        • indiana

          …right so the reason to keep the trees is an emotional “lets keep the city looking pretty” reason, an emotional reason that far outweighs all practical reasons full stop. If that is the case then there is no need to plant trees in the green areas ever, because the trees would already exist in street curbs.

    • tricledrown 8.2

      Les miserables how about a change of heart,and transplant these trees.Attachments to diggers specifically designed for lifting large trees with mininamal root damage exist.
      But I suspect this would need to be done mid winter and surrounding soil similar drainage excetera!

    • Murray Rawshark 8.3

      I say knock yourself over. There’s no shortage of trulls.

  9. Maui 9

    If you want to build a good city the left hand has to talk to the right hand. The arrogant right hand is self-obsessed with matchbox cars.

    • tc 9.1

      Supercity isnt about consultation, its about being ruled by the tsars hide and key installed in the CCO’s and blaming a powerless mayor who is undermined by C&R councillors like quax, brewer, krum and fletcher.

      • vto 9.1.1

        Supercity is not going to last. Within 10 years there will be a considerable push to bring local democracy back to the smaller communities.

        But what do people expect? Rodney Hide has failed with his neoliberal policies with things such as leaking homes, GFC, Pike River deaths, etc, so it is entirely predictable that this man with such small common sense and brains would fail on another of his schemes….

        … how do fools like Hide get their hands on such levers of power to implement their hare-brained schemes?

        Hide has been proved wrong time and time and time again …. bloody dangerous idiot

        • tricledrown

          Hide is a lowly ranked suckhole who can’t make it in any other field in life!
          A complete failure so grovelling and being a yesman tool of the wealthy elite is the only way for for woddinknee to have any kind of success.
          A fringe nutjob political party is his meal ticket doing the dirty work that the big boys don,t want to get their hands dirtied with.
          Woddenee ie a Tool their tool!

  10. vto 10

    There is absolutely no end to this madness until people stop driving in their cars …

    drive to a beach on the other side of town
    drive down to the shop for a bottle of milk
    drive to the neighbourhood café for some café
    drive to friends
    drive to family

    it is all that Auckland seems to be – as soon as you step out the door it is nothing but cars and roads and cars and roads and cars and roads – vroom. vroom, vroom vroom. the sound of modern Auckland

    I think people have forgotten that roads were made for people to walk over not drive. Then later to lead their horse and carts over, but still mostly for pedestrian passing. People and especially planners have this idea that cars have some inherent right to drive over every piece of public road – they are ignorant, as the car is only a very recent annoyance and passing on foot over road is the ultimate right. Cars can f&%^k off.

    I’m over it and heading back to the emptylands….

    • karol 10.1

      Public transport is pretty good in Auckland, but still could be much better – It’s best in the central Auckland area.

      But there is too much centralisation under the amalgamated “super-city”. So Public transport between the CBD and the west and south is inadequate, with the private motor vehicles clogging up the roads for buses and/or the routes to the train stations.

  11. With attitudes like this from our “pragmatic and moderate” elected representatives …

    • vto 11.1

      That was interesting and revealing ….

      Dick Quax just abused people and answered no questions ….. jeez, is he a right wing nutjob or something?

      Are people like Dick Quax responsible for Auckland Council? Pretty terrifying if so ..

    • Murray Rawshark 11.2

      Dick Quax is a great example of the dangers of keeping running past the point where your brain runs out of oxygen. He’s more suited to writing Whalespew comments than holding public office.

  12. Lindsey 12

    I caught the bus home from the CBD the other day. There was a stream of people coming from the Countdown supermarket in Victoria St (which provides no car parking), shopping bags in hand, and getting on to the New North Road buses from the stops in Victoria St. Most of them got off the bus at the top of Symonds St/New North Rd, but several were still there when we got off in Kingsland. Dick Quax is opposed to the CRL and most other PT improvements.

    • karol 12.1

      Over the “holiday” period, public transport has been running on their “summer schedule”. This means no trains AT ALL for two weeks, and no trains on the Western line for 3 weeks.

      Buses tend to be fewer, but they are most often pretty full: eg my bus to work today.

      The Managers of Auckland Council and transport need to get a clue about how much people will use public transport if it is better organised – and these days, even when it isn’t very well organised.

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