Protesters clash with police in effort to block Avondale trees removal

3:43 pm on 9 March 2021

Dozens of protesters have descended on Canal Rd in Avondale in a last-ditch effort to save 23 native trees.

Police at Canal Rd in Avondale where protesters are trying to prevent 23 native trees being removed.

Photo: RNZ / Ellie Jay

Half the mature native trees have already been cut down, after the section was sold to developers to build houses and protestors had been at the site for over 200 days.

Police surrounded the perimeter of the site and several protestors were arrested.

Activist and former Green party candidate Steve Abel said more protestors were detained by police after climbing into the site to try stop the felling of trees.

He said police and contractors came down "en masse... with no announcement or notice to cut down this irreplaceable native arboretum in the heart of Avondale".

"In terms of the vision of Auckland as a high quality liveable, compact city, this is the nature of it, destruction on an unimaginable scale of something as irreplacable as this native stand."

He said it was the failure of Environment Minister David Parker, Auckland Council and the developer to find a resolution.

Kaitiaki Juressa Lee said the council had failed to listen to the community and its pleas to protect the trees.

"We're about to lose about 30 trees here today, significant trees, native trees, rare trees, trees that don't typically grow in Tāmaki Makaurau. Trees that are the longest growing, slowest growing trees in the world, trees that have significance to Te Ao Māori.

"The council have failed to provide a green space for our community and our pleas over 20 years to purchase this land off the family. The council have failed to protect any other trees, any more trees since the end of last year and this destruction today the council could have prevented, they had many opportunities to prevent it from happening.

"We've had this many police at this site before standing around doing nothing so I'm not surprised but I'm still shocked ... it's a pretty heavy hand they are taking against the community who mostly want to keep these trees."

"There's a beautiful puriri who has suffered a lot already...I want to see that puriri stay, there's a tōtara, there's a karaka, there's a protected pōhutakawa, there's a rimu that has been poisoned but is on the boundary, that should stay ... I'm really hoping I don't see any more trees felled."

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