Photo: Rangitoto Observer

The Tree Council notes that at the meeting of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board on 16 November 2021 the Local Board passed resolutions regarding proposed significant pruning, cabling and propping of the scheduled trees within Te Uru Tapu / Sacred Grove.

Based on the limited level of detail within the minutes and agenda of the Local Board meeting it would appear that these proposed interventions exceed the criteria for permitted activities in relation to scheduled Notable Trees. Therefore, these works cannot progress without a resource consent.

The Tree Council would like to point out that any such application for resource consent for such a highly significant – and tapu – site needs to be publicly notified and go through a full public process. We consider that the rationale for any proposed tree works has to be to improve the health of the trees, not to minimize current or future conflicts between the trees and the existing boardwalk infrastructure.

The Tree Council wishes to be kept informed of all developments relating to Te Uru Tapu / Sacred Grove. We fully support the views of mana whenua, which were reiterated at the Local Board meeting, and together with mana whenua we consider that Te Uru Tapu / Sacred Grove should be closed to public access and the boardwalks and associated infrastructure removed. The tree management options presented at the Local Board meeting clearly indicate the likely removal of eight of the nineteen scheduled Notable trees due to health and safety concerns if the boardwalks are retained and reopened. 

The reason why Te Uru Tapu / Sacred Grove is such a special place for mana whenua and pākeha is because of these ancient and important trees. The health of these trees – as scheduled heritage items – needs to come before any public access or maintenance of assets to enable that access. If ongoing management of the access and the infrastructure enabling the access is compromising the health of the trees in any way then it needs to be removed. The trees need to be able to continue to develop their natural form without being compromised by manmade infrastructure.

Auckland Council needs to show more respect both for the natural heritage items it is responsible for, for the views of mana whenua for which they are such important taonga and for their Treaty of Waitangi/te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations.

Ngā mihi maioha

Sean Freeman