At dawn this morning an Aukati-rāhui was declared by members of Tangata Kaitiaki as a means to save a 100 year old stand of native trees in Avondale, including rare black maire and Kawaka.
Rihari Nahi of Ngāti Whātua Ki Kaipara placed the “korowai” of protection over the stand at 52-58 Canal Road as a means to stop contractors from destroying the remaining 23 native giants from being felled to make way for development.
“This Aukati-rāhui says that to destroy our urban forest here in Tāmaki Makaurau and nationwide is totally wrong and we need to stop it,” said Nahi.
The Aukati-rāhui also acknowledges those who planted the trees (Walter Burgess in the 1920s), and have been their guardians to date, including the present land owners, the Raymond family who have owned the properties since the 1960s.
“This Aukati-rāhui acknowledges the Burgess and the Raymond family elders whose legacy was to preserve and protect these trees. We want to support that legacy,” says Nahi.
According to locals, the Raymonds say they are cutting down the trees as part of a condition of sale to a developer and that they offered the property to the Auckland Council for purchase nine years ago.
The Aukati-rāhui was a response to a call out from local Maori residents William and Juressa Lee (Te Rarawa/Ngāpuhi). They emailed a letter earlier this week asking that “mana whenua of Tāmaki Makaurau help place a rāhui to protect the trees and the site from being completely destroyed.”
Rihari Nahi placed the Aukati-rāhui at dawn today which he says, “still permits tree protectors to enter the land but prevents people from destroying the trees.”
Today is the sixty first day of a tree sitting occupation to protect the site since contractors first arrived to clear the native trees.
The community campaign is calling for people to join the protest at the site over the coming days to help protect the trees.
“We believe that attempts to fell the remaining trees are imminent. We call on all those who understand how valuable these magnificent and rare native trees are to come to Canal Road. We need your help to peacefully uphold the protection of these irreplaceable rākau," says activist Steve Abel.
"If we want a liveable city and liveable community and liveable planet - we must keep trees standing.”
Those attending are being asked to also maintain physical distance and wear face masks so as to observe Covid-19 protections.
The Save Canal Road Native Trees community are calling on Phil Goff and the Auckland Council to urgently acquire the land to become a public reserve in perpetuity and thereby save the trees.