Save the playground trees and nesting native birds at Willow Park School.

Save the playground trees and nesting native birds at Willow Park School.

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Simon Esling started this petition to Duncan Millward

Just the facts:

Currently there are nesting Tui and Riroriro (Grey Warbler) in two of the trees.

Under the Wildlife Act 1953, it is against the law to ‘‘rob, disturb or destroy’’ the nest of any protected wildlife or game — kereru, tui and fantail are all protected under the Act. 

The current playground is an amazing space under four healthy, mature she-oak conifers (Casuarina equisetifolia) that have been mindfully planted many decades ago because of their ability to thrive in floodplain areas and flood-prone areas, such as Willow Park School. In summer this is a much nicer playground to play in, in contrast to the rubber/shade sail playground, which tends to trap heat and get a synthetic smell. But each playground offers something different. The current playground, with the popular yellow slide, simply needs a revamp within the shade of these stunning trees.

A new playground, with new native trees planted, can certainly be built in the current stage/seating area, which is under-used at the moment. A win for everyone.

The culture of throwing out and replacing things, and destroying trees in the process, models an unhealthy message to our children, that the environment will always come second. The current wooden and metal structure under the trees is a solid structure needing some attention in places but it is much loved and fulfills a 'woodland adventure' aesthetic.

The argument from the school that a fully integrated woodland playground being attached to the trees, as the first option considered, was too expensive or dangerous, is a moot point. What it does tell us is that when the children were consulted, this vision of an 'ewok village' playground was clearly their first thought. They want the trees. There is plenty of room below the canopy for new additions or redevelopment of the current playground area.

The whole non-native tree debate is another issue, but it suggests that none of the mature specimen trees, such as the stunning Flame Tree, are safe from chainsaws.

As Māori I see all trees as part of Tane's forest:

While the school purports to be sympathetic to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, supporting Māori tikanga and a different world view, one that seeks to work with the environment, it is doing the opposite of enacting it's five values that were rolled out after some expensive rebranding and signage:

Manaakitanga, Whanaungatanga, Manawaroa, Kaitiakitanga and Manawa reka

At Willow Park School we talk about a flourishing, connected and supportive community with the above values. But this project has not been shared widely and clearly with the community, except put in a newsletter on a Sunday, after school has finished.

Correct processes and being better guardians of public land:

No renderings of the plan or design have been shared with the community.

As a public primary school we can expect it to act with our children's future and best interests in mind and in accordance with local government processes: Auckland's Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy

We are heading into a climate catastrophe and every tree counts - natives and non-natives alike - because many non-native species actually fair better, grow faster in the urban environment than natives do and if they are not on the pest species list, they are just as important to our survival as any native tree, while also making the neighbourhood beautiful and healthy.

 

 

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