Tomorrow marks the milestone of 150 days since the chainsaws were first stopped at the contentious Canal Road native
tree stand in Avondale and a mammoth, daily vigil and tree-sitting effort began.
The protest began in the middle of winter shortly after the lifting of the first Covid-19 lockdown. Unannounced, the
chainsaws started cutting down the diverse stand of nearly 100-year-old native trees on 7 July this year. That same day,
local resident of 60 years William Lee, stopped his car on the way to the supermarket and stood in front of machinery.
Since then, hundreds of people have sat in trees or held vigil on the footpath; others have donated money, gear, food
and firewood through the winter; the site has been mulched, tidied, and maintained; an Aukati-Rāhui has been declared by
Tāmaki’s mana whenua; a dawn ceremony was held naming the site the Burgess, Raymond, Lee Community Ngahere; and the
group adopted the name Mana Rākau.
The community want to see the properties acquired by Auckland Council for a public reserve for present and future
residents of Avondale.
Kāinga Ora have engaged to find a resolution to save the trees but landowners and the developer have not responded.
Local MP Carmel Sepuloni is also offering to mediate a resolution.
Just this week, locals learned that the developer of the land, who stipulated destruction of all the trees (but one
scheduled pohutukawa) as a condition of his purchase, has lodged a consent (17 November) to build 32 townhouses and 32
accompanying car parks. His name is Paul Macey from the Insight Property Group Ltd.
But Mana Rākau - Save Canal Road Native Trees have no intention of backing down.
“We’re not going anywhere,” says local resident, Juressa Lee.
“We intend to maintain our daily roster of tree-sitting through the Christmas holidays to stop any attempts to cut down
more of these taonga that include rare black maire and kawaka trees.”
“We welcome new housing and we know it should be done in a way that keeps precious trees like these standing and
recognises the huge benefits of green space to the community, our birds and creatures, our climate, and our well being.”
As summer begins new shoots are growing from the stumps of severed branches on an iconic puriri tree which stands in the
middle of the site. The puriri is one of more than a dozen significant trees that remain standing. Other stumps are
sending out new growth also.
“The trees seem to be responding to the mulching and all the loving care of the community,” says Lee.
“These trees are fighting for life - there is no way that we are going to stop fighting for them to live,” says Lee.