Save The Trees on Owairaka/Mount Albert
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Honour the Maunga is a grassroots community group whose mission is to save 345 healthy, mature exotic trees on Ōwairaka / Mount Albert from being needlessly felled by Tupuna Maunga Authority. In all the Authority plans to get rid nearly 2000 exotic trees off Auckland's volcanic cones (maunga) so what happens on Ōwairaka / Mount Albert will affect all those trees too.
We have occupied Ōwairaka / Mount Albert around the clock since 11 November 2019 to prevent the Authority from destroying almost half of the maunga's tree cover - and during a climate crisis! Although the Authority plans to replace the trees with 13,000 native plants, most are low-growing species such as grasses and sedges. Any new trees planted will take many decades to reach maturity. We support the Authority's long-term vision of cloaking Auckland's maunga in native vegetation but the exotic trees should be left in place to provide shelter for the young native plantings while they grow to maturity.
Native trees of Aoteoroa are largely adapted for moist, forest floors and baby plants anywhere require being borne into a community of plant elders. The loss of 345 mature trees is devastating to the community of humans, animals, plant and microbial life in and around Ōwairaka/Mount Albert for the following reasons:
1. At the most basic level, this Maunga is walked daily by hundreds of people. We have a heart and soul relationship to these trees and it grieves us to think they will be needlessly destroyed.
2. Global warming is HERE. It is not a future event. Only trees, grasslands and clean waterways can sequester carbon. Every tree is needed!
3. The maunga is a thriving habitat for native birds. Ask anyone who walks this mountain. Tui, Ruru, Kereru, Piwakawaka, Kaka and Kahu are all here. Destroying their homes and habitats is a shocking violation of their right to life and the rights of the non-native animal communities and ecosystem in which they life.
4. Ōwairaka / Mt Albert and her forest holds profound cultural and spiritual significance for mana whenua and non-mana whenua alike. Aoteoroa has granted personhood to mountains and rivers. Destroying trees en masse is not the best we can do to honour these deep values.
5. Disruption to soil, microbial life, existing root systems and the structural integrity of the mountain itself, especially around its edges is dangerous.
6. This Maunga is named after Wairaka who according to legend,. broke protocol and took the waka paddle, acting 'as a man' to save the women in her care. Woven into the very energetics of this beautiful place is a legend that speaks to right relationship, custodianship and protection of all life and the times in which we must act to protect the sacred.
There is another way. Plant the new native vegetation under the protective canopy of the mature elder trees. Involve the community. Celebrate the cultures and histories of this sacred land while allowing all life to receive the right to live. Allow us all to help.
Please don't kill trees - they are needed more than ever before.
To learn more or become more actively involved in Honour the Maunga, please visit our website or join our Facebook page. You can sign up to our newsletter here. You can also donate to support our tree-saving cause.
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