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Tūpuna Maunga Authority Media Release re Ōwairaka / Mount Albert Trees
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority continues to work towards delivering the plan for the ecological restoration of Ōwairaka / Mount Albert, which includes the removal of 345 exotic trees and the planting of 13,000 new native trees and shrubs.
Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority confirms the following:
The management approach recognises that the maunga are distinct from other parks and open spaces, in that they are wāhi tapu – sites of immense spiritual, ancestral, cultural, customary, and historical significance to Mana Whenua. Most of the maunga in Tāmaki Makaurau, including Ōwairaka / Te Ahi-kā-a-Rakataura, were important pā (settlements).
One management objective is to facilitate the restoration of the natural, spiritual and indigenous landscape and to help restore and enhance the mauri (life force) and wairua (spiritual essence) of the maunga. Another is to preserve and enhance the authenticity and visual integrity of the maunga so that they are markers in the landscape and their cultural and natural features are visually apparent.
Vegetation management is one way the Tūpuna Maunga Authority is seeking to achieve these objectives. Native vegetation is one of the natural features of the maunga that has diminished over many decades, replaced by an increasing number of exotic (non-native) species. Removing exotic species and replanting and restoring indigenous flora and fauna is therefore a long-term goal across the network of maunga in Auckland.
A range of views have been expressed about the maunga restoration programme, with many comparing the impact of native ecological restoration on what might be seen in a short period of time.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority holds a long-term world view that these taonga are restored and are enhanced as wāhi tapu and as native wildlife habitat for generations to come.
The Ōwairaka / Mount Albert restoration is the latest in the wider restoration project to regenerate the Auckland maunga with 74,000 new native trees and shrubs by 2021. Tree removals and plantings have already been undertaken on Te Pane o Mataoho /Te Ara Pueru / Māngere Mountain, at Ōhuiarangi / Pigeon Mountain and at Maungarei / Mt Wellington.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has also undertaken and supported significant pest animal control at Ōwairaka / Mount Albert to contribute to the long-term goal of native wildlife habitat.
Tūpuna Maunga Management Plans
The Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan and Strategies confirm direction for proactive management of exotic species, replanting and restoring indigenous flora and fauna and biodiversity of the maunga, and reconnecting ecological networks within and between the maunga and the wider landscape.
The Tūpuna Maunga Integrated Management Plan underwent public consultation from February to May 2016, and the Tūpuna Maunga Authority Integrated Management Plan Strategies underwent public consultation in July and August 2019. These documents can be read online at www.maunga.nz.
Of the 345 exotic trees to be removed at Ōwairaka / Mount Albert, 183 are pest species identified in the Auckland Regional Pest Management Strategy or are a weed species of concern to Auckland Council, being:
The balance of the exotic trees to be removed are mainly Eucalyptus – a number of which pose a health and safety risk due to their size and location. Ōwairaka / Mount Albert also includes a large area of bush land under the administration of Watercare. No exotic trees on the Watercare land will be removed as part of these works.
There are a significant number of native trees on Ōwairaka / Mount Albert making up over half of current tree canopy, and all of those native trees will remain.
An assessment by an independent ecologist has determined that the remaining native trees will provide appropriate habitat for the native wildlife at Ōwairaka / Mount Albert.
The tree removal at Ōwairaka / Mount Albert is authorised by a resource consent approved by Auckland Council.
The resource consent approval was supported by independent expert ecological assessments, including in relation to the timing and staging of the tree removals.
The resource consent does not permit the removal of any exotic tree that has a native bird nesting in it.
Tūpuna Maunga Authority contractors will be undertaking the authorised activities in full compliance with the resource consent.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority welcomes the support of The Tree Council and Forest and Bird for the ecological restoration of Ōwairaka / Mount Albert.
Access blocked by protestors
On two occasions this week, arborist contractors have peacefully attempted to access Ōwairaka / Mount Albert to establish the work site early in the morning to commence works at 7:30am, as per the requirements of the resource consent.
On both occasions protestors have unlawfully blocked access by obstructing a public road with vehicles, preventing the works from proceeding. The protestors have assumed an entitlement to control a public road and to choose who they want to allow access to the maunga.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has reported these matters to the Police, including the health and safety issues such as emergency services, Watercare and contractors requiring unobstructed access to the maunga. The Authority are working with the Police to resolve this.
In 2014 a Treaty of Waitangi settlement was enacted in law, transferring the ownership of fourteen Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains), including Ōwairaka / Mount Albert, to the Mana Whenua tribes of Auckland and establishing the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.
The Authority is a co-governance body with equal representation from Mana Whenua and Auckland Council (six each), and one non-voting Crown representative.
The Authority is independent of the Council and has statutory decision-making powers and functions.