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Native Tree Activists Go To Court

Five protesters who occupied trees to stop contractors cutting them down will appear in Auckland District Court today at 9 am.

Police charged Abigail Smith, Niamh O'Flynn, Nick Young, Steve Abel and William Lee with willful trespass eleven days ago.

Lawyer Ron Mansfield is representing the activists.

Mr Abel, an environmental activist and Green Party candidate, says Mr Lee inspired him to start a tree occupation.

"William and his kids have played in this rare collection of urban native trees since they were little," he says. "William stood in front of a wood chipper early this month and inspired locals and supporters to stand up and save more than twenty trees."

On the day of Abels arrest, Treeworx contractors felled a large rewarewa onto the puriri he was occupying.

A social media video of the incident shows Mr Abel in the tree and two police officers running when the tree fell towards them.

Worksafe stopped work on the site on Tuesday, following complaints from local arborists about the low standard of work there, Abel says.

Worksafe says Treeworx can't restart work until it shows it has "adequately managed the risk associated with tree felling".

Mr Abel says the Save Canal Road Native Trees wants Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to instruct the council to buy the land and turn it into a public reserve.

The group also wants Environment Minister David Parker to reinstate general tree protection, he says.

More information

  • The video of the tree falling on My Able is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NRAqFFbT28
  • David and Paul Raymond own the 52-58 Canal Road property.
  • Mr Abel says the Raymonds claim the removal of trees is a requirement of sale to a developer.
  • Arborist contractor Treeworx has destroyed more than a dozen trees in the last three weeks.
  • Over twenty natives remain on-site, including a kawaka, three rare black maire and other natives like totara and puriri.
  • Thirty protesters have occupied trees, with more taking shifts to watch the site.

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