500 year old Kauri tree saved – but under Key’s gutted RMA, welcome to the future



Sanity has finally settled in and the tree killer developers have realised they won’t get invited to any more dinner parties if they commit environmental vandalism and destroy this magnificent 500 year old tree.

The debate however has been extraordinary in terms of seeing NZers values, it has highlighted the gross incompetence of the Auckland Council and it has given a glimpse of the polluted future we have in store for us under Key’s RMA once it’s had its environmental protections gutted.

The Right in NZ have made two arguments over this tree. The first is their attempt to denigrate the suggestion that the tree is 500 years old. Let me respond to that. I don’t care if it’s 500 years old, 400 years old, 300 years old or 200 years old. As far as I am concerned, a tree that makes it to 150 years of age deserves protection. If it can get to 150 years old without getting chopped down,  the tree deserves protection unless there is significant reasons not to. The owners desire to build another bloody house as part of the subdivided middles classes fetish with property speculation is not a significant bloody reason, which brings us to the second argument the Right have used in this debate which is ‘it’s my property fuck off’.

This unbridled greed and privileged mentality that would gladly destroy a half millennium old tree just to make the point that it’s ‘theirs’ should be met with the sort of social disgust reserved for boastful drunk drivers and child porn collectors.

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In terms of the City Council’s response, how the hell could a mate of the Mayor get the green light to destroy a 500 year old tree, and if a 500 year old tree can’t be protected in the first place, what the hell can be protected? Surely a tree as magnificent as this one demands protection, that the Council was powerless to stop it is an indictment on our City.

The final point of course is that this type of environmental vandalism will become the norm once National start implementing their newly gutted RMA. National’s developer mates who espouse the ‘it’s my property, fuck off” mentality will be patting their chainsaws in anticipation over what they can chop down and exploit.

As the Planet faces a catastrophic climate change future, here we are arguing over a 500 year old trees right not to be destroyed. We learn so slowly.


  1. Mike Hosking in his end of Seven Sharp homily last night put the guy staying up the top of the tree in the same category as the person who has threatened to poison babies with 1080

    • Mike Hosking should just wear a brown shirt and National Party logo and remove all doubt as to his allegiance. The man is a disgrace to the broadcasting profession!

    • Didn’t John key threaten babies lives by not announcing the 1080
      poison threat on baby formula last November? , his announcement now
      is a distraction from what hes really up to, maybe rigging the election in Northland through fear of Winston.
      This early election voting gives whoever is in charge of votes time to suss out the direction of the vote and influence the outcome , USA does it and Key is owned by USA, so its feasible to suppose it will work in NZ.
      I voted early last election but not this time,i will wait till last minute to vote ,there are not that many people in Northland so it wont be hard to count votes on the night of 28th, late voting makes it harder to hide annomalies ,Northland needs to be very vigilant.

    • @ esoteric pineapples – This goes to prove numbnut Hosking doesn’t have a clue and as usual, talking out of his rear end!

  2. And yet there are pohutakawas that are seriously undermining house structures, and causing health issues, that are still standing, although also protected, it would make a better argument to remove these. Kauri are the sentinels of the forest and belong to no one but Papatuanuku.

    • Who the F builds a house on an ancient tree and think they (the homo sapiens) takes precidence???

    • Agree. The roots move into old sewage lines and cause back-ups.

      Pohutukawa are attractive and great shade providers but they are very unsuitable as amenity trees in small suburban gardens.

      However, they definitely need conserving in parks and esplanades. Alternatives to ‘widen the roads for the commuters’ need development. Chain saws are the last resort.

  3. The Right in NZ have made two arguments over this tree. The first is their attempt to denigrate the suggestion that the tree is 500 years old. Let me respond to that. I don’t care if it’s 500 years old, 400 years old, 300 years old or 200 years old. As far as I am concerned, a tree that makes it to 150 years of age deserves protection.

    1. It’s not “the Right” making that first point, it’s “people who believe journalists shouldn’t just repeat claims as facts without checking.”

    2. For a man who “doesn’t care” how old this tree is, you get a lot of mileage out of it being 500 years old. You repeat the claim as fact several times in this post, and wrote a whole post about its supposed 500-year age the other day.

    3. If its age really doesn’t matter, stop referring to it as a “500 year old tree” (sic), and refer to it as a “tree.”

      • What, expecting journalists not to just spout some bullshit they heard as though it were a fact is “pedantry” now? In that case, the country needs a shitload more pedants.

    • …and…there are some now claiming the tree is a lot less than the 150 year cut off point Martyn has imposed. As young as 70 years, perhaps. I sense a self destructing argument.

        • I haven’t claimed to be 500 years old. Therein is the difference. Now that the Council letter has been leaked, it is public knowledge that the tree is less than 200 years old, and that both the Council and the Developers went to extreme measures to satisfy concerns around the landscape of the site. Hindsight has made fools of the eco-nazi’s and assorted hangers on.

          • You are a foolish man, Nehemia/Intrinsicvalue. Even if the tree is 200 years old – cutting it down means it will never reach it’s 500th birthday, because short-sighted individuals like you have no appreciation of our natural environment, and would cut them down.

            With ignorant attitudes like yours, we’d eventually lose our heritage – native trees – because all it takes is one narrow-minded fool to cut them down for narrow, selfish motives (profit). You need to learn that with property rights come property obligations. No rights are absolute. Something you’d be well aware off at 3am in the morning if your neighbours decided to play ‘Metallica‘ at full volume just over the fence from your bedroom. Don’t like It? Move.

            And by the way, the local residents of Titirangi might not appreciate your rather offensive, juvenile description of them. Labelling a community as “eco nazis” just shows you to be another intolerant right wing nutter.

      • Some people claim anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist
        Some people claim chem trails are sedating the populace
        Some people claim the ACT party is good for the Nation
        Some people claim John Key doesn’t lie to the NZ people

        I sense your argument self destructed.


          Do the research on the first two.
          I lost a good friend when I virtually told him to fuck off. (my first swear word,sorry)
          I too was a believer.

          I know it’s hard.
          See my story on Rachael Gold’s column.


      • But are those claimants credible and authoritative?

        Can they direct us to photos in a properly curated archive that show, categorically, there was barely a seedling kauri there in 1945?

        Did some miserable survivor of the Second World War plant it in grateful thanks for survival? In which case the vials of wrath will be completely unstoppered and decanted should anyone show such disrespect as to fell it. Oh woodman spare that tree!

        You have been Warned….:-)

        (Assume irony. You won’t be wrong.)

    • Milt. I’ll be the first (?) to admit that I’m uncertain how old the tree is.

      Just as I’m 100% uncertain that the elections last year weren’t rigged.

      But I’m fairly certain that, until data is presented to the contrary (a) it’s an old tree and (b) the elections were held fairly.

      But even that is beside the point.

      Let’s say the tree is only a century old. So what?

      If we keep cutting trees down because they are inconvenient to us, at a certain point in time, then when/how will we ever have new ones growing for our grandkids to enjoy?

      As humans, we are ephemeral. Except for the works we do, we are gone in the blink of an eye (especially in geologic time), returned to component atoms.

      But what we do, during that brief time of consciousness, is what matters in the long term.

      If “property rights” trump everything else, then property rights alone will determine the sort of world we live in. Anything else; natural beauty, the environment; other species; etc, will always come secondary.

      It means that a tree with a thousand year lifespan may be destroyed overnight, by an individual here and gone in a fraction of time.

      I’m guessing that the ISIS fanatics who destroyed ancient artifacts in Hatra also believed that they have a “right” to do what they did. (http://nypost.com/2015/03/09/isis-destroys-more-ancient-artifacts-in-iraq/)

      But they would be wrong.

      • Frank, I’ve no problem with protesters not wanting property developers cutting down Auckland’s few remaining Kauri. It makes sense to me that they don’t like it and I wish them well.

        However, I do very much have a problem with journalists repeating propaganda bullshit as thought it were fact, and this one has all the hallmarks. If you think it’s fine that journalists are happy to treat claims as facts when it suits your agenda, what basis do you have for disputing bullshit propaganda claims when they suit the government’s agenda?

        • If you think it’s fine that journalists are happy to treat claims as facts when it suits your agenda, what basis do you have for disputing bullshit propaganda claims when they suit the government’s agenda

          Fair question.

          Generally speaking, when I dispute government BS, I do so using information that supports my contention that it is BS; locate information that questions the validity of government assertions; and reference that information. (eg; unemployments figures, citing Stats NZ)

          On other occassions, I use opinion. (Though when expressing pure opinion, I don’t always refer to facts and figures, if they are sweeping comments. Eg; “This government is anti-worker”.)

          If it turns out, in this situation, that the source of the 500 year claim cannot be established, I might use it (or not) – but I guess it’s then open to being contested as valid or not. If it can’t be proven, then it’s an opinion. Or best guess.

          I guess one way to find out would be to count the concentric rings of a cross section of the trunk. But, like “Japanese scientific whaling”, it would mean the destruction of the subject in question.

          • The Planning and Ecological Assessment by Dr Mark Bellingham (Aristos Consultants) is the best evidence that I can find on the age of the tree. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bykr-euicdfMMTB6Wi16RXh1ekE/view?pli=1

            It says “The more mature forest areas around Titirangi (including this area in Paturoa Road represent some of the original forest cover of the area, with many of the larger kauri, podocarps (rimu, totara) and puriri being in excess of 400 years old.”

            “The highest quality and most mature forest is on the upper slopes of 40-42 and the road reserve adjacent (3-400 years old).”

            So I think the 500 year old figure is probably accurate, or has come from a reliable source.

    • You should never cut down anything that is a tree older than you. Half your age even. DO YOU PRODUCE OXYGEN??

      • The tree is on private land. It was one of a number on what is described as a ‘bush clad’ section. Trees are not in short supply in New Zealand.

  4. Some ACT/Nat types witter on about their “property rights”. Funnily though, they never mention the corollary – property RESPONSIBILITIES! When you buy a car, you have a responsibility to keep it in good condition; obey the road rules; and drive it responsibily. The same should apply to buying land.

    No “right” is absolute. Never has been and never will be.

  5. I think we have Peter Dunne to say thanks for this. He stopped some R.M.A. reforms last year that would have affected this. Those changes were going to weaken the very R.M.A. provisions that saved these trees.

  6. This has been a deserved nightmare for National, exposed embarrassingly and rubbed in this morning by Penny Hulse on RNZ. However this was always the way their conservative agenda was going to work, if it’s in the way of me making money burn it.

    This mindset is up there with those idiot photographs of some English toff standing on the carcass a rare Siberian tiger he just shot because he could.

    Along with filling in the Waitemata in the name of more container storage or chain sawing down old Pohutukawa’s in Western Springs to expand the bloody motorway, we have gone backwards. All we need now is raw sewage back in the harbour too if that saves a buck.

    Welcome to the real world of the conservative voter!

  7. Elle is right – vote on the last day Northland. The National party supporters ( the US) are shifty.

  8. This tree is about 100 years old, all of the old forest was milled there by 1920..

    There are over 7000 hectares of kauri forest left today. Yes a fraction of what it once was, but still enough trees that we don’t need to climb single kauri trees on a private section to save the species.

    Furthermore most of the locals are hypocrites. Their houses are all built on former kauri forests. Are any of them wanting to plant kauri trees on the lawn?

    • Are you a Titirangi local. What is your occupation? Where do you live or own land? Are you a developing idiot too?

  9. I knew a Kiwi mate while in Canada who returned in 1977 who bought a house in Titirangi.

    And when we would go see him and family, Bill would always say how careful he had to be not to damage the flora & trees when doing improvement around the house.

    Him and his wife preferred this restriction as they said that was what made the idyllic life so good around that area as everyone needed to follow careful guardianship of the native flora and trees there otherwise it would be a tasteless bland boxes on the hillside outlook as is prevalent everywhere else nowadays.

    “For every effort there are rewards.”

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