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Two views on Titirangi’s Kauri

Written By: - Date published: 12:24 pm, March 15th, 2015 - 24 comments
Categories: Conservation, david cunliffe, Environment, national, same old national - Tags: , ,

Titirangi Kauri

There was an interesting variety of views expressed recently in the Herald on the ancient Titirangi Kauri tree that this week avoided the chop, at least for now.

Predictably Rodney Hide thinks that the whole thing is an attack on personal property rights and land owners should be able to fell trees just because they own them.  He said:

Quick, whack your old trees down. Otherwise you run the risk of having MP David Cunliffe living up it and being bossed about from New York by former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Supermodel Rachel Hunter will weigh in with obscenities on Facebook: that’s because you fail to appreciate the “life force” your tree holds.

That’s what has happened to architect John Lenihan and his family. They were going about the lawful enjoyment of their Titirangi property, including chopping down their old kauri. It was theirs. They bought it. But no matter. They had to be stopped.

Hide’s approach allows for no allowance for the community good that trees provide, for the stability they provide to neighbouring properties, for the habitat they provide for indigenous fauna or for the beauty they give to the local area.  According to Hide these things are of no value and totally irrelevant.

Hide’s view clashes with the view of Herald columnist John Roughan who has written a column which I agree with entirely.  This is an experience I am not sure I have had before.  Roughan has shown himself by this column to be something of a greenie at heart.  He says this:

One of the silliest things the present Government has done in my view was to make blanket tree protection illegal. Now, any trees a neighbourhood wants to protect need to be individually designated by the council, which is impractical and was intended to be.

National did this in its first year of power, no doubt fulfilling an Opposition promise to supporters railing about restrictions on the right to do what they like on their own property. It is surprising how many buy into a leafy street and immediately set about making it less so.

Environment Minister Nick Smith defended the Government’s decision at that time.

In the Cabinet room he might have argued differently. He and new Conservation Minister Maggie Barry weighed into the stand-off over a kauri marked for felling by a property owner at Titirangi this week. They were on the kauri’s side, which could mean Barry is making a difference in the Cabinet. She was not even in Parliament when blanket protection was outlawed.

Her words this week were notably stronger than Smith’s. He hoped the kauri could be “spared if at all possible”, adding that it was the council’s call. She said, “I do not support the felling of any mature kauri trees”.

Let’s hold her to that next time the Government starts to cut a motorway through a swathe of them.

Well said John.

24 comments on “Two views on Titirangi’s Kauri”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    I notice that Hide doesnt quite pin down Lenihan and Greensmith as developers. They building on the two adjacent sites to onsell for a profit.

    Greensmith has been an active developer in Titirangi area for some time, shes subdivided larger sites into smaller sections for sale.

    Its still not explained how they got around the town planner saying the approval should go for notification.

    Hides current job in Christchurch for one of his developer mates is to ‘wrangle’ development permits through the city Council.
    he hung around Wellington for a bit after leaving politics hoping to get a government job but the National party wouldnt touch him after his toxic affect on the ACT party.

  2. Nick K 2

    Lenihan & Greensmith developed land for houses? How dare they.

    Hide doesn’t dismiss those items at all, Mickey. They are implicit in the commissioner’s considerations when deciding to grant consent to cut down the tree. Once that decision is made – a quasi judicial one – the mob ruled and vigilantism took over. I’m a little surprised you accept that behaviour.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      The decision needs to be reviewed Nick because I cannot understand how it was not at least notified. And if the decision was in institutional terms correct then there is something wrong with the system.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2

      Nothing wrong with Lenihan and Greensmith cutting down trees regularly to build houses, just they tried to avoid saying thats what they do.

      The public protest has shown the council is NOT following the process for more than a minor impact. A judicial review ( expensive) would stop this little charade in its tracks

  3. It is surprising how many buy into a leafy street and immediately set about making it less so.

    Goddamn, John Roughan said it more snappily than I did. Time to throw in the towel? 😛

    • mickysavage 3.1

      Yep I have said many negative things about Roughan but I read this and I though he absolutely nailed it.

  4. newsense 4

    Roughan’s a team guy, who as part of that is a Kiwi. He doesn’t feel, like the lefties here, that he has to agree with his team, especially with something as important as our ecological system.

    Hide takes our tax money, while arguing we as NZer’s have no sense of community or shared values that over ride personal property rights.

    On the other hand, two prominent Nats here arguing for it. If they change the law back- any time in the next 3 years, it is a win for them and some green-washing. And also ACT can then try to hoover up the classical rich and do what I want class.

    • Murray Rawshark 4.1

      “He doesn’t feel, like the lefties here, that he has to agree with his team,”

      I suspect you’ve never really looked at what goes on here. We hardly ever agree with each other.

  5. de Withiel 5

    Roughan is a typical, climate change denying, tory green and can’t see the disconnect between his promotion of and support for a National party ‘development at any cost agenda’ (including and especially, motorways) and his, I’m sure, quite sincere appreciation of New Zealand’s natural environment. He was quite cut-up by the late Professor John Morton’s death, which surprised me. John was an ardent protector of our indigenous flora and fauna and was quite outspoken about it.

  6. felix 6

    Hilarious to hear Rodney on the radio the other day. Reckons the people protesting are all latte drinking urban posers who have never been in the bush in their lives.

    Now I know Rodney a good stir and he’s basically paid for trolling these days, but jesus that’s a bone-headed thing to say. Bears zero relation to the people who put that protest together.

    And Rodney, seeing as you’re a regular reader and you think everyone here is mean and rude, I hope you’ll note that I criticised your behaviour and not you as a person. which is a lot nicer than you did in describing the protesters you sad bald git.

  7. JanM 7

    Difficult to associate the proposal to cut down such an old and venerable tree as coming from an architect. Is he a real one? – I have always associated architecture with respect for the environment. Mind you, I suppose, as with everything, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly

    • Melanie Scott 7.1

      Well I’ve reminded myself lately that I have a pretty poor opinion of Auckland architects who, with a few notable exceptions are an arrogant, philistine, money grubbing lot. They assume a superiority when it comes to taste and style which they have not merited, and most would be grasping developers if they could be. These two, cynically waited for the changes to RMA which protected trees of a certain size, age, species etc and then lodged their consent application. Cynical in the extreme was the Council’s notification to iwi that it was just “vegegation” that was being removed!
      I still visit parts of densely populated Europe from time to time and am always struck by the profusion, size and density of the treescape in centres of quite concentrated human population. The countryside too, in UK, the farms in the south especially, are covered in trees. The NZ agricultural countryside is hideous by comparison – grass and barbed wire, full stop. A greenie farmer friend from Poverty Bay who plants lots of native trees on his farm used to try and persuade his neighbours to do the same. They all said they hated trees, especially because they encouraged their animals to stand under them when it was hot or the weather was bad, when they should be eating grass.

  8. Lloyd 8

    Its really funny when right wing politicians complain about restrictions on property rights up to the moment that planners suggest that property rights should include the ability to develop residential property further than so far allowed. Suddenly increasing density is a terrible left-wing policy. They can’t have it both ways. If chopping down trees to allow development of a couple of houses is OK, then chopping down bungalows and replacing then with multi-storey tower blocks must be even better as it allows a property owner to develop the property without negative controls from Council bureaucrats.
    Surely allowing you to develop your property to the maximum the market can stand is right in line with neo-liberal philosophy. I await Rodney Hide’s publication of a statement decrying the piddly degree which the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan allows a property owner to increase the dwelling density in the central Auckland area. along with a specific plea to double or triple the maximum housing density allowed under the unitary plan compared with what will be allowed under the proposed unitary plan as it presently stands.
    All the property owners of Remuera and Howick should be able to put multi-storey buildings on their property. Anything else is kow-towing to namby-pamby leftie greenie philosophies such as allowing good residential environment and access to sunlight. Build it – any other consideration must be a left wing conspiracy. Dick Quax and Brian Leyland who oppose greater housing densities are obviously greenie – lefties.

    • Melanie Scott 8.1

      For the past week I have been having fantasies about abbatoirs in Vicky Ave and panel beaters in Long Drive.

  9. TheBlackKitten 9

    Hide did forget to mention that these owners were filthy middle class developers hoping to get ahead in life and make some money by developing their land (how dare they!!!). However in the same token what has being missed here is that they would have produced one more house to the strangled depleted housing market that has become Auckland.
    I wonder if the precious Rachael Hunter or the privileged Helen Clark understand the stress and pressure of those that are in a desperate search for a home in the Auckland market. How many of you have tried to buy or rent a property in Auckland lately?
    So with this Kauri tree crusade, where there is no evidence to say this tree is indeed 500 years old, what has also being achieved is that one family will now miss out on buying & renting a home.
    Let me explain the economics of this. When people purchases houses they will generally spend as much as they are able to to buy something nice. So lets say, there are 20 houses available in the Kauri crusade price range but 30 people wanting to purchase (these numbers are hypothetical). 10 will miss out and will then seek to purchase at the next rung down on the property ladder. Remember people purchase at their highest purchasing power so if no stock is available in that range they will look at lower price ranges. The 10 people that purchase at the next rung down will see 10 people in that price range being bumped down another level. This chain will continue right down to the rentals. So in denying 1 extra house at the end of the chain there will be one family who will be bumped out of a rental. Perhaps a caravan will be the next option for them.
    Now my question is – Was the Kauri crusade worth the expense of some being denied a home to rent and buy in a market that is clearly suffering a huge supply and demand issue?
    Its also interesting to note that those up in arms do not have one iota of an idea of how stressful and distressing it is to find a home to buy or rent in this Auckland market that is short of supply probably because of ridiculous situations such is this.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      This is absurd. According to your supply and demand theory there is no difference between a house in treeless Karaka and leafy Titirangi.

      In any suburb there is for obvious reasons a finite amount of house sites : from nearly zero in Ponsonby ( all built up) to many many sites in flat treeless empty Ormsby.

      I can assure you the thing the developers dont want is an unlimited supply of new homes , especially in Titirangi. Prices dropping considerably? I Dont think so.

      I have seen this in my previous work. A large subdivision of 300 + sections. But only about 100 or so released for sale each year. Thats the way prices are kept high.

      • TheBlackKitten 9.1.1

        “there is no difference between a house in treeless Karaka and leafy Titirangi.”
        There isn’t. Its called desperation. Have you tried to buy or rent property in Auckland recently? If so, then you would understand what I mean. People are desperate and a home although not in their suburb of choice is a home. Heck do you really think people that commute from East, West, South and the Shore into the city each day to work would not prefer to be closer to their work in suburbs such as Ponsonby, Parnell or Mt Eden. But they don’t live there and the reason is because they the can not afford to do so.
        Glad to see that we agree that prices would drop considerably if there was plenty of supply, not to sure I agree with your theory re developers. Surly the more they build the more they make. Say if they had access to land for 500 x $50.00 houses instead of 200 x $ 50.00. Even if they restricted the 200 by releasing them at 50 a year for $ 100.00 instead of $ 50.00 the return of 500 at $50.00 would still be greater. Also restricting houses means less dollars in their pockets as they need to wait longer to reap the profits.

        • Molly 9.1.1.1

          Developers will release in stages, and by doing so – do not have to pay rates on titles until those stages are deemed most profitable to release.

          The scarcity is retained, prices are maintained at a higher level.

  10. DoublePlusGood 10

    Someone really should buy the house next to Rodney, build a giant eyesore on it that takes away his views, plant trees with assertive root systems along the border, and mount a foghorn on top of the house that discharges as 3am every night. He would quickly gain an appreciation as to why we have rules on what people can do on their property.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 10.1

      A combination bottleshop and tyre store. That should do it. Opening hours 7am to 11pm

  11. Typical rightwing bullshit – Rodney’s market forces vs Roughan’s sentimental landscape.

    These people have nothing to do with the left and its defence of nature and humanity.

    The landscape that Roughan loves is that which is all but destroyed by predatory capitalism that Hide champions.

    It survived only because as a specimen it had little economic value when Kauri trees were harvested in the 19th century.

    The instinct to protect this tree shows that they people recognise an icon of what has been destroyed in Aotearoa by colonisation.

    Its preservation is a small victory in the battle against climate change, species extinction and destructive rip, shit and bust predatory capitalism dying on its feet.

    It’s time that the killing spree that is capitalism was stopped by replacing it with a society that lives in harmony with nature.

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175968/tomgram%3A_william_debuys%2C_a_global_war_on_nature/#.VQXv40iYONk.twitter

  12. Malconz 12

    Using Rodders’ logic, if I owned a Leonardo and decided it wouldn’t really go with the new house I was building in Titirangi, then It would be perfectly OK to burn it. What’s the problem? It’s just a 500-year-old painting, and there are millions more paintings left in the world!

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