Ōwairaka / Mt Albert Tree Protection Group Announces Patrons
The tree protection group Honour the Maunga has announced the appointment of two Patrons: Sir Harold Marshall KNZM and Pouroto Ngaropō MNZM, JP.
Honour the Maunga has (apart from during the Covid lock-down) had an ongoing presence at Ōwairaka / Mt Albert since November 2019. The group’s goal is to protect 345 healthy, mature trees from being needlessly felled, thus safeguarding the maunga and its ecosystems.
Sir Harold Marshall, KNZM
Sir Harold Marshall is a fourth-generation Mt Albert resident, Former Chair of the Mt Albert Residents’ Association and founding Honour the Maunga member. Before retirement, Sir Harold was an architect, engineer and physicist who is recognised internationally for his contribution to concert hall design.
The former Professor of Architecture in the University of Auckland and Head of the Acoustics Research Centre has over 60 years’ experience in the acoustical design of auditoria and concert halls.
In 1994 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He also holds Fellowships in the Acoustical Society of America, the Acoustical Society of New Zealand and the NZ Institute of Architects.
In 2008, was made a Distinguished Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to acoustical science and in 2009 accepted the title Knight Companion of the Order, KNZM.
Sir Harold says: “Over the decades, many locals have gifted native and exotic trees to the maunga, including kahikitea planted in memory of a loved one, olives planted by returning soldiers from WW1 and a cherry tree grove planted by a local family.
“All these native and exotic trees serve as sacred memorials to the past – and our present - from those who love this “high place” in our midst. They also serve as welcome habitats and food for many kinds of birds – including uncommon species such as the kakā.
“I am honoured to be Patron of this imperative to preserve our shared history and the flourishing urban forest that benefits us all.”
Pourotō Ngaropō, MNZM, JP
As Ngāti Awa ki Te Awa o Te Atua, Pouroto Ngaropō has deep ancestral, spiritual and cultural connection to Ōwairaka through his ancestress Wairaka, from whom the maunga is named.
A tohunga, kaumātua, traditional leader and historian, Mr Ngaropō is Chairperson of Te Tāwera Hapū Trust, Iramoko Marae, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa ki Te Awa o Te Atua and drove the re-establishment and upgrading of Iramoko Marae, near Matatā
He has been Deputy Chairperson of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, was involved in Ngāti Awa Treaty settlement negotiations, held positions on Ngāti Awa’s Arts Council, and was Chairperson of Ngāti Awa Education Grants Committee.
In addition to holding numerous cultural advisory positions, Mr Ngaropō has also been Chairperson of the Māori Mataatua Consultative Committee for Pacific Health, Pōkerekere Māori Lands Trust, Te Kohika Art Collection, Whakatāne District Council Iwi Liaison Committee, elected Councillor and currently on the Rangitaiki Community Board and Eastern Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation.
In 2006 Pouroto Ngaropō was awarded Justice of the Peace, JP status and in 2019 he was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori and governance.
Mr Ngaropō says: “I am the mountain and the mountain is me, I am the trees and the trees are me, I am the birds and the birds are me, I am the land and the land is me.
“Everything is universally connected to the creator, the universe, the earth and our ancestors. I am grateful and honoured to work alongside, Sir Harold Marshall and Honour the Maunga as a symbol of partnership representing the Treaty of Waitangi to protect the mauri of Ōwairaka.
“This can only be achieved by working together, one mind, one heart, one people, one community and one mountain”.
Honour the Maunga’s Leader, Anna Radford, says the organisation is delighted to have Mr Ngaropō and Sir Harold as its Patrons.
“Appointing two such distinguished Patrons reflects our ongoing evolution and maturity as an organisation.
“Taking a lawful and intelligent approach while always acting with the utmost integrity has helped make Honour the Maunga the success it is today. It is six months since we established an occupation on the maunga and – thanks to our collective efforts - the trees, birds and other lifeforms are all still there”, says Ms Radford.
She noted that the group had recently re-established its base outside the Tūpuna Maunga Authority-administered area, on private property immediately outside the entry gates at the top of Summit Drive. Public access to Ōwairaka Domain is unrestricted.