Tree felling in Ōwairaka/Mt Albert: the Court of Appeal rules in favor of the protesters
A couple who tried to save 345 exotic trees from being cut down on an Auckland maunga have won an appeal against the decision to remove them.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA), which co-governs Ōwairaka/Mt Albert with Auckland Council, announced plans to remove the trees in November 2019. They are to be replaced with 13,000 native trees and plants.
The decision to cut down the trees was met with opposition at the time and led to a group protesting the removal with a months-long sit-in.
Auckland residents Averil and Warwick Norman argued in the Court of Appeal that the TMA’s plan breached reservations law and failed to carry out proper consultation with the public.
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The three judges of the Court agreed that the required consultation had not been carried out and that the request should have been publicly notified, as required by the Resource Management Act.
“Consequently, the Court set aside the Authority’s decision to cut down and remove the exotic trees on Ōwairaka and the Council’s decision to grant resource consent for the cutting and removal of the exotic trees. “
The intention to remove all exotic trees was “significant and was never made explicit”, the court said.
“On these bases, we have concluded that the appeal should be allowed and the decisions of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority and the Council set aside.”
Last year, the Normans lodged a High Court application against the TMA and the council to stop the works, but that was unsuccessful.
The court ordered them to pay legal costs amounting to more than $70,000 in addition to the failure of their legal bid.
He previously concluded that the Auckland authority and council had both acted lawfully in granting consent to the removal of the trees without notice.
Honor the Maunga spokeswoman Anna Radford said she was “absolutely delighted” with the decision.
“It’s completely wrong to destroy hundreds of trees and the homes they provide, you know, it’s and wildlife,” Radford said.
“So it’s a total victory for nature, but also a total victory for what is the right thing to do under the law.”