26 Apr 2019

Auckland kauri tree gets brief reprieve from chainsaws

12:07 pm on 26 April 2019

A centuries-old kauri tree at the centre of a more than four-year battle to keep it from being cut down has temporary reprieve from the possibility of being cut down extended.

Tree climber Michael Tavares who climbed a 500-year-old West Auckland kauri tree in a bid to save it from being felled

Michael Tavares climbed Awhiawhi in 2015 in a bid to save it from being felled. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Earlier in April, the Environment Court removed an interim order stopping the tree from being felled, with the end of protection set for today.

However, a group campaigning to save the west Auckland kauri, called Awhiawhi, have lodged an appeal against the outcome in the High Court.

On Wednesday, the High Court reapplied temporary protection for the tree in Titirangi until further order.

But it could be short lived.

Michael Tavares, who is part of the group fighting to save Awhiawhi, said: "Because [the matter] is now going to go through the High Court, a new injunction was placed to protect the tree whilst it is going through those procedures.

"The injunction will last as long as the High Court process goes for and the indication from the High Court is that they want it dealt with quickly. They've said within a month is their aim.

"If the High Court were to overrule the Environment Court's decision then the temporary protection would be converted a form of permanent protection. But that's not the only angle we're going down. We're also urging Auckland Council to reinstate the SEA - the Significant Ecological Area overlay - that the area used to have... We remain hopeful of a solution either through the High Court or Auckland Council."

The property where the tree grows was previously subject to an SEA.

However, that was removed when the landowner previously obtained a resource consent to build a house and clear vegetation.

That consent has since been surrendered, but the SEA has still been removed, meaning the tree can be cut down if a protection order isn't in place.

Removal of kauri trees - although they are a threatened species due to kauri dieback disease - is permitted under the Auckland Unitary Plan.

A High Court document seen by RNZ shows the appeal is to be called in the duty judge list on 1 May.

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