Activists climb trees in standoff with Auckland developers, vow to stay for 19 days

Environmentalists have taken to the trees in Avondale, where a standoff between the developer owners has boiled over.

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Community groups are protesting the removal of several native trees on Canal Road by developers.

Several people have this morning occupied native trees at the site on Canal Road after contractors last week tried to cut down the mature native trees on site, and were at least partially successful.

The site has been the subject of significant protest action over the past few months, with community groups calling on the Whau Local Board to buy the sections and turn them into a public park, which the board declined to do.

Police were called to the scene last Tuesday, and in a tense moment, they had to scramble to safety after a falling tree nearly took two officers and protestor Steve Abel out.

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Steve Abel leapt into one of the trees on Canal Street, Avondale, as contractor felled a tree nearby, sending police scrambling. Source: Adam Yates

Mr Abel, a Green Party candidate for this year's election, said this morning that four people are currently in trees at the site, and they will stay there for 19 days.

"The removal of tree protection has led to the carnage that’s out here and a massive dip in the skill of arborists," Mr Abel said.

"What happened at the start of this week in Canal Road is one of the worst things I've seen in 20 years of arboriculture.

"The Government needs to bring back tree protection."

Mr Abel said about 14 trees on the site have been cut down in the past two weeks, and that there are still about 20 large trees on the site, including three rare black maire, a NZ cedar as well as two totara and two large puriri.

According to Land Information New Zealand data, the properties are owned by David and Paul Raymond.

Mr Abel said the previous owner of the property - the Burgess family - have "expressed their devastation at the destruction of their grandfather’s trees and are seeking to meet with the Raymonds to discuss the matter".