Falling trees can kill. Even branches can. Most people would stay well away from a site where trees are being cleared, but not veteran environmental activist, Steve Abel.
At a residential site on Canal Road, Avondale where protesters have been gathered for weeks in the hopes of saving dozens of mature native trees, Abel ran towards a tree being felled and scaled a neighbouring tree to protest. Having already been trespassed off the property, two police officers gave chase. Incredible video then shows the tree being felled, landing on the neighbouring tree which Abel was clinging to, while the police scrambled for their lives. A supporter screamed and sobbed as she watched branches cascading down past the protester. Fortunately, he was unharmed.
The following day while a WorkSafe investigator was on site in high winds, the felled tree pivoted spectacularly on the tree that it was hung up on and the head of it crashed into the ground while the trunk lifted up into the air.
A long-time environmental advocate and protestor, Abel - who is also a Green Party candidate - led a plucky band of tree advocates in a last-ditch attempt to preserve these very special native trees in Canal Rd, Avondale. The trees are on private property which has been for sale.
While many find the felling of such a significant cluster of indigenous trees to be repugnant, no one is arguing that the owners are not within their rights. The argument is that council should purchase the land as a small park in a rapidly growing area; in fact, there are Kainga Ora apartments being built on the opposite corner.
The Tree Council took the issue right to the top with Phil Goff at an Environment and Climate Change Committee meeting on July 21st – which ironically, was underway at the same time the tree felling drama was unfolding. At the meeting Phil Goff referred to the financial constraints that Auckland Council is under. “There are groups of trees all like this all over the city that we have no protection for,” he said, and noted that the real solution is for the government to reinstate tree protection. “I deplore the fact that these trees are coming down. They are beautiful trees. I love trees like that.”
Dr Mels Barton, advocating on behalf of the Tree Council responded, “Council has the opportunity to move in and do something on an individual site; you were offered that opportunity three years ago before this site came on the market and nothing was done. I think that speaks volumes in terms of your commitment to the Urban Ngahere Strategy … what is happening today at Canal Road is an extremely good example of where the rubber hits the road with your Urban Ngahere Strategy, with the general lack of tree protection.”
There was discussion in the committee about doing a land swap for an underutilised reserve space further down Canal Rd. Council staff gave a long explanation of how complex this process is, how difficult it would be and how long it could take. Basically all the reasons for doing nothing. There were no staff suggestions on what could be done. It played out like an episode of Yes, Minister.
Council was first asked to consider buying the land 23 years ago. From 1997, Gordon Burgess, the son of a previous owner, advocated strongly for council to purchase the land due to the trees’ significance. Burgess had been the Auckland Harbour Board’s first property manager, so he knew his stuff. He had also managed the NZ Cricket team on tour to India in 1969 and was awarded an OBE for services to cricket.
The Burgess family are well aware of how special these trees are. They were planted by ancestor Walter Burgess, who was born in 1886 and came out to New Zealand aged seven; by the age of twelve he was employed in cabinet making. Walter married Edith on 14 January 1914. He became a woodwork instructor at Avondale Manual Training School and they purchased a property nearby at what was then numbered 48 Canal Road. He taught until his retirement in 1953.
Nicknamed “Old Burgie”, wood and trees were Walter’s lifelong passion. He decided to plant his own arboretum on his half acre paradise, likely in the late 1920s to 30s. At a time when a lot of native forest was being clear felled across the country, Walter decided to plant indigenous trees. He carved the tree names in Latin and te reo Maori on wooden plaques and used his growing forest as an educational aid. Of the 46 trees that remained until recently, there were seventeen different species, including black maire, puriri, rimu, titoki, totara, whau and pohutukawa. A single pohutukawa is the only tree on the property that has protected status in Auckland Council’s schedule of notable trees.
Walters’s granddaughter, Angela Dell, says that she and all the family are really sad at the tree felling. Walter and Edith had five sons, all of whom had enjoyed growing up and playing in the trees. Four of them served in WWII, and returned safely. Angela is grateful that her father and grandfather are not alive to see the tree felling, as she describes it as being horrible to witness. “It’s absolutely gutting”, she says.
The land the trees are on was purchased by Mr Andrew Pearson in 1914. It was two lots combined - present day 54-56 Canal Rd. From 1915 Pearson’s neighbour was Mr Charles Alfred Schneider, who later changed his name to Charles Alfred Raymond. In 1918 Pearson sold to Mr John Hume, and in July 1926, the land was transferred to Mrs Edith Alice Burgess (it was a common thing in those days, to have land in the wife's name).
In 1961 the Burgess property was sold to Merv Raymond. He eventually owned all three properties on the corner of Canal Rd and Wairau Ave. Daughter-in-law Lesley Raymond said that one of the houses was rented out and another was used to store antiques. In the 1990s the former Burgess house burnt down, and at some point the second house also burnt down. Alhough some of the trees may have been damaged by the fires, the end result was the creation of a beautiful park-like open space with large trees gracing it; the downside was the Raymond family had the burden of paying the rates and maintaining the land, including dealing with people dumping rubbish. After Merv died the decision was made to sell the land.
The protesters believe that a condition of sale set by the buyer is that the trees have to be cleared before settlement, thus precipitating the protests.
This has been quite a polarising issue in the Avondale community. Some people point out that the owners are within their rights. The other view is that rare mature stands of native trees are an important asset in our intensifying urban neighbourhoods. Tall trees are especially important and are often the first to go.
The debate has flared up at the site, on social media and also at the July meeting of the Whau Local Board (WLB). In the public forum, six people addressed the board with their concerns. Sylvia Spieksma was disappointed by the lack of support from WLB members, even from the Greens. Allie said that people in the Whau Pacifica Group want the WLB to walk the talk with them and the trees should have been kept as a learning resource. Chair Kay Thomas responded that the WLB fully supports the protesters and wants the trees retained but cannot intervene. They did not want a visit to the site to be seen as opportunistic grandstanding when in truth the WLB is powerless to change the outcome.
It was fitting that the last challenge came from Steve Abel. Why had the WLB never applied for notable tree status for the cluster?
A society grows great when old men plant trees
whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
– Greek proverb
Te Toi Uku Crown Lynn & Clayworks Museum has been around since 2015 but it has recently undergone a renovation and refresh. It now includes a permanent exhibition about the clay industries that operated in New Lynn throughout the 20th century, until Monier closed in 2015. It also has an exhibition about Crown Lynn which operated nearby from 1948 until 1989.
“There is a lot more for people to see here now, and to learn about what New Lynn was like even 50 years ago”, says museum curator Rosemary Deane. “Since the renovation, visitors stay for much longer; there are new displays, plenty of objects to spark delight for the Crown Lynn collectors, and much more information.”
The museum is situated on the original site of an early 20th century brickworks and sits next to the old kiln. Up until the 1980s New Lynn was covered in brick and clay factories and the museum aims to engage the local community with the brick and pipe stories. The museum is focussed on the people and the processes that made the ceramics, from bricks and pipes through to the finest dinnerware produced by Crown Lynn.
“We are different from other museums that have Crown Lynn collections in that we also have the tools and equipment that used to make the products. A lot of Crown Lynn production was by hand, including attaching handles and hand decorating. We aim to tell those stories”.
Te Toi Uku is administered by the Portage Ceramics Trust which was formed in 2005 to purchase a large private collection of ceramics and pottery-making equipment relating to Crown Lynn Potteries Ltd. This was the collection of Richard Quinn, who not only collected from op shops, but also dug in the ground behind the Crown Lynn factory to find shards and complete pieces which help to tell the Crown Lynn story. Later objects were added to the collection including some heavy clay equipment and tools relating to the early West Auckland companies.
The Museum is thankful to the Whau Local Board for operating funding and also Foundation North and the Portage Licensing Trust who have made these new exhibitions possible.
Visit us at 8 Ambrico Place, New Lynn (off Rankin Ave). Open Tuesday to Friday 10-4 and Saturday 10-3.
Dedicated to supporting the Returned and Services’ Association (RSA), the New Lynn RSA Women’s Section celebrated 75 years last month.
With the motto “People helping people” they have contributed to the RSA through event support, baking, fundraising, crafting, and as a group have been dedicated to keeping the movement of women in the RSA.
“This is a joyous occasion”, says President Glenis McFarlane. “Women have contributed much to the RSA; it is a pleasure to serve as President and I encourage new members to join the movement. We meet once per month and have guest speakers, events and go on outings.”
Whau Ward Councillor Tracy Mulholland felt privileged to join their celebration luncheon held at Bricklane, and as a supporter of their good work in the community, formally joined the Section and encourages other women to do likewise.
To find out more, contact the New Lynn RSA on 09 827 3411 or go to www.newlynnrsa.org.nz
The Whau River Catchment Trust (WRCT) is an umbrella organisation for Friends of the Whau, a group working towards healthier streams along the Whau River through community participation and kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection). They deliver a wide range of community-based ecological restoration projects, in collaboration with the Auckland Council and other key stakeholders within the Whau River catchment. Their ethos is all about having fun whilst delivering great environmental outputs.
The Friends are working to restore a 1.5km long walkway by planting native species along the Whau River. However, a hindrance to the young plants is a massive, invasive exotic grass, Arundo donax, which can grow to 5m high. If cut and left, this bamboo-like grass will sprout again and keep on growing, so it needs to be removed from the site. Biocontrol is being trialled using scale insects to knock this annoying species back.
Fortunately, however, what is for some a noxious weed is sometimes another’s favourite food – in this case Auckland Zoo’s two elephants, Burma and Anjalee. A mutually beneficial arrangement has been formed between Friends of the Whau and the Zoo, whereby the grass is cut on Thursdays and then dropped at a spot from where the zoo’s ‘browse team’ can then easily pick it up the following day.
The group were lucky to have two great teams from Singapore Airlines out to help in June. They helped to cut down more Arundo donax, and got stuck into removing Madeira vine and planting up some light-wells. They were a lot of fun to work with and the Friends hope to get them back out soon.
FOTW need more volunteers to help cut down the grass (with loppers) and there are lots of other nearby conservation tasks they can keep them busy at too. If you or your workplace would like to do some satisfying volunteer work outdoors, and help feed elephants and control exotic weeds at the same time, get in touch with Sandra on 021 295 0302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to EcoMatters’ ‘Love Your Neighbourhood’ fund, supported by the Whau Local Board, who supplied the loppers to make this work possible.
The Fresh One collective, in partnership with Te Uru, The Creative Souls Project and Whau The People, is excited to announce ‘WYF: Where You From’. An exhibition featuring young emerging artists, WYF is now showing at Te Uru until Sunday 13 September 2020.
Combining new work by ten Auckland-based artists under the collective name Fresh One, visitors are encouraged to engage with the stories that each artwork presents.
“The question, ‘Where you from?’ alludes to many things. Whether it be our ethnic makeup, migration stories, ancestral land connections or simply our suburb, it often connotes the notion of ‘home’. This in turn offers various insights into our personal experiences of home; how our homes have shaped us, politicised us and created us. As the voices of the next generation of Auckland artists, WYF seeks to diversify the art world in the hopes of making it a more inclusive space for both established and emerging young artists.” – Fresh One Collective
The Fresh One collective is made up of: Ashleigh Taupaki, Atonia Vavao, Cyrille Paul Lim, Eva Fuemana, Hamish Raman, Jacob Hamilton, Jasmine Tuiā, Joseph Hisayasu, Mr Meeseeks and Taunese Puā. The exhibition is co-curated by Fresh One members Paulina Bentley and Hulita Koloi.
WYF has been generously supported by Creative New Zealand’s Toi Rangatahi Engagement Fund.
Te Uru is at Lopdell precinct, 420 Titirangi Road, and is open to the public
from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4.30pm. Entry is free.
Magazine editor's secrets revealed in 'tell-all' memoir
Candid, personal and compelling, Lynch’s memoir pays tribute to New Zealand’s most popular magazine, her colleagues, the Weekly’s loyal readers and long-standing Weekly Editor, the inimitable Jean Wishart.‘This memoir is no nostalgic, dewy-eyed trip down memory lane. How could it be? We were hardly angels. There was booze. Some people had permanent hangovers. There were blow-ups. A colleague hurled a typewriter out of a window.’ – Jenny Lynch, Under the Covers: Secrets of a Magazine Editor
Lifting the lid on the glossy world of magazine journalism, Jenny Lynch reveals what really went on behind closed doors in her revealing memoir, Under the Covers: Secrets of a Magazine Editor. From closely guarded secrets to the politics of print media, common myths, mishaps, squabbles, restructures and reader diatribes, Lynch surveys her colourful life in magazines. She also comments about the seismic changes which have swept through editorial offices and newsrooms in recent years, not least the rise of cheque book journalism.
What journalists did and how we did it in the newsrooms and editorial offices of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s is light years away from the way things are done now . . .
‘What journalists did and how we did it in the newsrooms and editorial offices of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s is light years away from the way things are done now . . . But those three decades form a colourful slice of New Zealand media history. And I want to make a record of them. I want people to know what it was like to be part of what is sometimes remembered as the golden years of print journalism,’ says Lynch. Those golden years included feature writing on the Weekly News – a venerable magazine run like a gentlemen’s club. Lynch joined as it was struggling to cope with changing times and even its eccentric characters couldn’t prevent the magazine’s demise in 1971. She moved to its replacement – an improbable attempt at tabloid journalism called the Sunday Herald. Lynch’s memoir details her adventures on the short-lived newspaper, which included a helter-skelter car trip through the North Island with outspoken feminist Germaine Greer, who had an appointment in the Auckland Magistrates Court. After it folded, she worked on Thursday magazine – brainchild of feminist journalist Marcia Russell – where her targets included back street abortion and calling up the dead.
Despite its conservative reputation, it wasn’t all ‘Over the Teacups’ and Pixie Pages at the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. The magazine also had an audacious, controversial, saucy side. There were royal scandals and celebrity gossip, and Weekly readers lapped it up.
Peppered with the names of the famous and the fleeting, Lynch recalls the fun and challenges of working as a magazine journalist, not least, her turbulent years helming the Weekly; one of New Zealand’s most iconic and beloved magazines. Full of drama and intrigue, Lynch also recounts the Weekly’s battle for dominance in what became known as The Magazine Wars, fought against a backdrop of management turbulence and ownership changes.
Candid, personal and compelling, Lynch’s memoir pays tribute to New Zealand’s most popular magazine, her colleagues, the Weekly’s loyal readers and long-standing Weekly Editor, the inimitable Jean Wishart.
An “unbeatable” test proved to be no problem for three Avondale College students, who have taken out the top places in the national Microsoft Office National Championships for 2020!
Tristan Mona, Simran Tak and Irene Wang, all Year 13 Avondale College prefects, gained the highest scores in the national competition, which tested their knowledge and creative thinking skills in different Microsoft Office applications.
As the world’s largest IT competition, each year the Microsoft championships attract more than three quarters of a million contestants of secondary school and university age. The competition moved online this year, but Jonathan Jansen of New Zealand Industry Qualifications says the New Zealand division was as competitive as ever, despite current global affairs.
“Moving to an online championship was a difficult decision, but the determination of our contenders shone through with some of the most impressive competition scores we’ve seen to date,” he says.
“We designed the championship test to be unbeatable; hundreds of questions with less than an hour to complete them. Our expectation was to simply see how far a competitor could get. Needless to say, we were incredibly impressed when multiple Avondale students completed the tests entirely and with almost perfect accuracy.”
Principal Lyndy Watkinson, said she was very proud that Avondale College students had once again dominated the Microsoft championships.
“To achieve 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in New Zealand is an exceptional achievement for these students, and is testament to our Innovation Programme,” she said.
Unfortunately, the world championships won’t be taking place this year, but without a doubt, the three New Zealand champions will be taking their unbeatable skills and confidence into the remainder of their final year at Avondale and beyond.
Many people are not aware of the extent of change that is coming to the tree cover on nearby maunga. An ongoing protest on Owairaka is almost a year old.
The plan illustrated is a visual indication of the changes that are coming. It is a compilation of two Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA) plans for Puketapapa/Mt Roskill. Of interest is the amount of mature tree cover (pink) being removed and the smaller area (green) of replacement planting.
This maunga is lightly planted in comparison to some others. All 160 exotic trees (shaded pink on the plan) will be removed and replaced with 8,991 new native plants (shaded green on the plan). The 160 trees make up 60% of current tree cover with the remaining 40% being existing natives. New plantings will essentially be roadside planting and some boundary planting. According to the plans, the vast bulk of the new plantings are ferns, grasses, flaxes and low growing shrubs.
Based on last season’s planting on other maunga, the track record so far is not impressive, with a substantial proportion of plants failing to survive the harsh conditions and dry summer. Plantings near summits utilised a method of pinning the planter bags on top of the ground to avoid digging any holes.
Some feel that exotic trees which have survived for decades on maunga are being treated in a similar way to statues that are now deemed offensive.
In the last issue (July 2020) Beacon covered the Racing Bill which would enable racecourses that are deemed surplus to requirements, to be sold with the proceeds to be transferred from the clubs that owned the assets to the Racing Industry. Essentially, this is property confiscation without compensation.
The Bill has now passed into law and comes into effect on 1st August. In the meantime, clubs cannot sell or transfer assets without permission.
In a surprising about face, the Racing Industry Transition Authority (RITA) granted Avondale Jockey Club (AJC) five more race days while industry restructuring proposals are advanced further. Previously in the draft calendar, no race days were allocated. Resuming racing at Avondale and a few other racecourses also kicks the contentious asset confiscation to touch for the duration of the elections.
AJC chairman Allan Boyle said “AJC has worked hard over the last decade to get into a strong financial position and to plan for the redevelopment of its land. The aim had been to make a strong contribution to the thoroughbred industry by strengthening urban racing in a city that is growing faster, and expand our role. We believe New Zealand must focus on its urban racing scene and make it strong. Anything is possible, even in an industry that has stagnated.”
Recently, the Club held a one-off race date to help out the industry due to wet winter conditions. Beacon attended and observed the racecourse come to life once more with the buzz that surrounds racing. Earlier it had rained heavily, and the wind was so strong that the race commentator said he thought the commentary box may blow off the top of the roof! Despite that racing proceeded successfully, demonstrating the quality of the track.
There are five more race days scheduled at this point, so enjoy racing in Avondale while you can.
In April while the country was still in lockdown, the government made a call for “shovel-ready” projects that could be funded to help restart the economy as we work our way back after the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Auckland Council responded to this call with a total of 73 projects city-wide, and it has now been confirmed that of the four Auckland transport projects approved, two are of direct benefit to West Auckland and the Whau: the North-West busway and the Te Whau pathway.
Whau Ward Councillor Tracy Mulholland is delighted by the announcement.
“The Te Whau pathway will create a safe walking and cycling connection from Olympic Park to Te Atatu, and it’s a project which I am very proud of”, she said.
“The North-West busway is also great news. This project will help to reduce congestion during rush hour by making public transport a better, more attractive option for commuters. With more commuters opting for public transport, the traffic reduction will help the roading networks flowing efficiently, creating a win-win for everyone.
“With construction of the two west projects set to start next year, this investment is expected to create hundreds of jobs which will keep Aucklanders working and stimulate the economy. The economic benefits and the inherent benefits of this infrastructure to the people who will use them make these very worthwhile investments”.
The Te Whau pathway which was commenced in 2015 will eventually link the Manukau Harbour to the Waitematā Harbour via a shared path designed to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The $35m government allocation will enable two sections of the pathway to be built; one through New Lynn from Olympic Park to Ken Maunder Park, and the other through Te Atatū South, from Laurieston Park to the North Western Cycleway.
For more info go to www.tewhaupathway.org.nz