No, Alf didn’t meet the tree-hugger – and let the record show no other Nats met him, either

No, Alf was not one of the MPs from across the House who are the subject of a media statement from one Michael Tavares.

This Tavares bloke is the tree-hugger who spent four days up a kauri in Titirangi last month.

Just before we hard-working Parliamentarians took off from the capital for our Easter break, he was bragging about a successful lobbying visit to the capital in this press statement.

The headline proclaims the nature of his success:

MPs pledge to meet threatened trees

Not all MPs. Just a few.

Tavares went on to say:

MPs from across the House met today on Parliament’s forecourt to acknowledge the recent outcry against a consent granted to fell an ancient kauri, and to pledge to meet other similarly affected communities.

He was a bit misleading in saying he met MPs from across the House, because Alf can’t find anyone from National or Act on his list.

Or NZ First or United Future.

He says he was joined

…by Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, Labour MP and Member for New Lynn David Cunliffe, Green Party co-Leader Metiria Turei, Green Party Conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage, Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty, and Green Party RMA spokesperson Julie Anne Genter. The MPs have all pledged to take time over their upcoming 3 week recess to meet communities across New Zealand who are trying to protect trees consented for felling.

It is very understandable there are no Nats on the list.

We have lots of other things to do during the recess.

Tavares, on the other hand, has a very narrow focus on keeping certain trees from being turned into timber or firewood.

“As soon as I got down from the Kauri I started hearing the same story from locals all over the country, that their trees are at risk too, and that they aren’t being listened to.” said Mr Tavares.

“I’ve been approached by people from all over Aotearoa, asking for help to save precious trees that have had resource consent for their execution granted.

“I can’t sit in every tree, this was always a bigger issue than one kauri in Titirangi. The RMA is now so weak that it is failing to give our Taonga the protection we want and expect.”

It seems the MPs who turned up to meet him were presented with a list of threatened trees from across the country and have committed to visit a tree and to meet the locals trying to save it, and to understand the nationwide impacts of a weakened RMA.

Oh – and Tavares has included some quotes from these MPs in his statement:

“Something is very wrong when communities across the country are being ignored in their efforts to protect their local trees.” said Mr Cunliffe.

“Clearly the Government has got it wrong. Communities across New Zealand are being told they can’t protect the trees they love – that’s not right.” said Green Party Environment spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“The Greens believe in a strong RMA that would give these trees the protection they deserve. Trees make our cities and towns healthier and pleasanter places to live,” said Green Party Conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“Kaitiakitanga and environmental protections should not be sacrificed for supposed economic benefit. These communities deserve to be heard, and the rules should provide the protection and security that they expect for this and subsequent generations”, said Ms Fox.

He has given himself the final say:

“I hope that by connecting MPs to the people at the frontline of these flawed rules, we can stop any further attacks on the RMA, and restore the original intent of the Act.” said Mr Tavares.

“New Zealanders have made it very clear – our trees are worth protecting. Hopefully soon that’s a reality for all these groups.”

Alf is by no means opposed to the sparing of kauri.

But there are one or two other items on his list of priorities to which he is giving a greater commitment for now.

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