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Mt Eden Pohutukawa Saved By Community Action

The Tree Council’s Board Member Mark Lockhart was not prepared to stand by and allow Auckland Council’s “clerical error” to result in the destruction of a landmark pohutukawa in Mt Eden.

Instead he started a petition and lobbied Councillors Christine Fletcher and Cathy Casey who approached the Mayor about getting the tree replaced on the Council’s Schedule of Notable Trees. It had originally been listed as Notable under legacy Auckland City Council’s District Plan but was somehow omitted from the list when it was transferred into the Unitary Plan and the mistake wasn’t spotted until now.

The current landowner bought the property knowing that the tree was protected as this was indicated in the LIM report, but he has made it known that he plans to develop the property for apartments and wishes to remove the tree.

Having already received a brush-off in writing from Auckland Council officers that they were not prepared to instigate a plan change to replace the tree onto the Schedule, Mark was not taking no for an answer.

As a result at a recent Governing Body meeting of Auckland Council the Mayor had instructed the CEO and Director of Strategy to prepare a memo to all Councillors detailing the options by which the tree could be replaced on the Schedule, despite the inevitable cost implications. However no one was prepared to state that Council would seek an injunction to ensure that the landowner did not remove the tree in the meantime while it was still legally unprotected.

So, The Tree Council took action immediately and an Environment Court Injunction is now in place to protect the tree until Auckland Council’s bureaucracy can do the work required to return its permanent protection. We understand from the court that Auckland Council is supporting the injunction. The court will hear from the landowner next week.

“We sincerely thank those individuals who have donated the funds required for us to take this action in court to secure the safety of the tree. It is disappointing that the community needed to take and fund this urgent and essential legal action when the Council was not prepared to” said Mark.

“We are grateful to the Mayor and Councillors Christine Fletcher and Cathy Casey for their leadership in demanding that Council’s error is rectified as quickly as possible and we ask that they pursue the Scheduling of the 587 other notable trees currently with no legal protection waiting to be scheduled that also need to be added. If they are going to do a plan change for this one tree then it makes sense to also include the other 587 at the same time.”

The Tree Council have set up a Givealittle Page to take donations towards paying for the court action to save the Eglinton Pohutukawa and scheduling other trees in Auckland. You can donate here:
https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/save-the-ancient-pohutukawa

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