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Kauri controversy overlooks property rights

Controversy surrounding a Titirangi Kauri tree ignores the rights of property owners, according to one mayoral candidate.

Thursday, December 24th 2015, 12:00AM

by Miriam Bell

A Titirangi neighbourhood has been campaigning to prevent architects John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith from felling an anicent Kauri tree on one of two adjacent properties they are planning to develop.

The campaign, which has included two separate tree “occupations” by protestors, has generated public debate and anger since early this year.

After the first “occupation” in March, the tree was saved when the council, owners and protestors came to an agreement.

However, plans to fell the tree were put back on the cards recently – which led to further protests.

Yesterday the tree, which was “occupied” at the time, was ring-barked by a number of contractors.

This has prompted public outrage.

But Affordable Auckland mayoral candidate Stephen Berry said Lenihan and Greensmith were the victims in the controversy.

The architects had gone above and beyond their legal obligations and yet they have had their property invaded twice and wasted thousands of dollars in delays, he said.

“Nobody should have to endure such a vitriolic assault from their own community for carrying out legal and consented work on their own property.

“It appears they have taken steps to assert their legal rights.”

Berry said it was necessary to support the rights of property owners to go about their legal business unmolested. 

In his view, the protestors should be charged, convicted and made to reimburse Lenihan and Greensmith for the costs they have incurred due to the campaign.

Lenihan and Greensmith have not made any public comment on the latest series of events.

However, back in March, they contributed an open letter to landlords.co.nz which explained their position.

In the letter they said they thought the situation had come about as a result of Auckland’s housing pressures and problems with the city’s regulatory systems and processes.

Following this week's events, the High Court has granted an interim injunction against the felling of the Kauri and the "occupier" of the tree has been charged with trespass.

 

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