< December 2019 newsletter

Citizens stand up to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority* (TMA), who control Auckland’s 14 volcanic cones (tūpuna maunga), is once again causing consternation amongst the people of Auckland - this time by wielding its powers in a destructive and seemingly vengeful way.

Waging utu on the exotics?

The TMA has plans to remove 2,000 exotic trees from the 14 maunga, and is currently in the process of implementing its decision.

Mt Wellington/Maungarei was first up, with the felling of 180 trees, followed 112 from Ōhuiarangi/Pigeon Mountain, and 152 from Māngere Mountain, upsetting local residents. The removal of mature healthy trees is part of what is called a ‘restoration’ plan.

The Auckland Council Senior Arborist said of the Mt Wellington Resource Consent application:

“I do not support the proposal to remove these trees from Maungarei for the reasons stated in the Application. There is no arboricultural reason to do so and I do not believe that the visual effects of the proposal can be dismissed as minor. I do not consider that the tree removals are in the interest of all of Auckland’s communities and generations to come. The proposal places no value on the European historical and cultural links with the site, which is documented as predominantly the planting of the existing trees (both exotic and indigenous)." See Tree Advocates website for more on this.


According to the TMA operations manager Nick Turoa, the restoration plan [which includes the removal of exotic trees] is seen in the wider context of colonisation, land confiscations, and the alienation of Māori from their whenua and culture. (Ref: Hui held on Owairaka 28 November)

The TMA clearly stated in a presentation earlier this year - Co governance of the iconic Tūpuna Maunga of Tāmaki Makaurau – that the priority is cultural restoration not ecological restoration.

At the end of October, TMA advised that 345 mature, exotic trees were scheduled for removal from Ōwairaka/Mount Albert - starting from 11th November onwards. However, they did not count on the passion the local community has for their mountain, its trees and wildlife. Despite given very little warning about the impending tree cull, a grassroots group - Honour the Maunga – was set up, and with supporters from far and wide, has occupied the mountain 24/7. The goal is to save the trees by preventing tree-felling equipment from entering the site.

In response, much to the dismay of the group, the TMA has embarked upon a smear campaign full of half-truths and downright misrepresentations of the protest action. Honour the Maunga have countered with a question and answer webpage - Fact, fiction and spin – what can you believe?

This page includes an unabridged response from Chris Finlayson, former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, who was asked about the recent actions of the Maunga Authority which are concerning members of the community.

STOP PRESS - the TMA have been prevented from cutting down the trees for now, due to a judicial review. The hearing is to be held on 20th March 2020. However, this judicial review applies only to Ōwairaka/Mount Albert, and not the other 13 maunga.

*The Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority, established in 2014 as a result of a Treaty settlement, is a co-governance body comprised of equal representatives from local iwi and Auckland Council, together with Crown (non-voting) representation.

Media coverage

Stuff (23 March): Nature lovers angry after mass tree removal at local park

Stuff: Auckland Council investigates complaint following councillor’s comments in Māngere Mountain tree removal row

NZ Herald: Ōwairaka/Mt Albert tree protesters slammed as 'woke, entitled Pākehā' at maunga hui

Waatea News: Owairaka protest group settles in as legal action filed

Advancing the co-governance agenda - large swathes of the Coromandel to be included

The authoritarian way the TMA imposes its will does not bode well for the wider community in areas affected by co-governance arrangements. While not yet publicly announced how the Pare Hauraki Treaty settlement co-governance regimes and natural resource partnerships will work in practise, the PARE HAURAKI COLLECTIVE REDRESS DEED appears to grant powers similar to that of the TMA over the maunga, waterways and catchment areas of the Coromandel Peninsula and into the Waikato region. As Aucklanders are discovering, the interests of other citizens in these areas will become secondary to the obligation of having regard to the spiritual, ancestral, cultural, customary and historical significance to iwi.

A summary of the Pare Hauraki Collective Redress Deed is available by clicking HERE

At no stage has the New Zealand public been given any say in these increasingly intrusive co-governance arrangements. There is no public debate, our approval is not sought. Nor is there any vigorous promotion of the public interest. To the contrary, it all happens out of the public eye, to be presented to us as a fait accompli.

Do you fancy co-governance arrangements over the Hauraki Gulf? No?

The Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf are the jewels in the Crown of Auckland, much treasured by a great many. But there is the danger that the control of this area will go the same way as the maunga of Auckland. In response to a letter sent to the Minister for Treaty Negotiations, Andrew Little, the Minister confirmed that the Crown has made commitments to negotiate Treaty settlement redress over the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours and the Hauraki Gulf. This is also mentioned in the Pare Hauraki Redress Deed, which states that the Crown will seek arrangements involving the Iwi of Hauraki in the natural resource management of Tīkapa Moana (Hauraki Gulf) that are based on the Treaty of Waitangi, (see page 143).

Please don't wait to be invited to have a say on this issue, because you won't be asked. Instead, send your thoughts to:

Go back to the December 2019 newsletter


The Great Tree Massacre

Photo: Once was a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig In July/August 2023 the Tūpuna Maunga Authority destroyed around 60 healthy mature trees on Ōtāhuhu Mt Richmond. Their crime - they were not native. And it has said it is coming back for more. Continue reading

Where the parties stand on co-governance

Many of us are opposed to co-governance and believe that decision-making must be fair, transparent, and democratic, with all decision-makers accountable to the citizens. This being so, we have reviewed the main political parties to find out their stance on co-governance - both in general and specific to the Hauraki Gulf. The parties appear in alphabetical order. Continue reading

Warning from Northern Ireland – co-government does not work

The Northern Ireland governing system established 25 years ago is set up as a power-sharing style of government that relies on the cooperation of different social groups. This arrangement has not delivered the normalised, shared, and de-polarised democracy which was promised by political leaders and pro-consociation theoreticians. It has serious flaws, many of which have become apparent over time. Continue reading

What the hell is co-governance? An explainer……

‘Co-governance’ is an emerging and developing model of decision-making in New Zealand. The term refers to a shared governance arrangement - with representatives of iwi on one side, and representatives of central and/or local government on the other, each side having equal voting rights at the decision-making table. Continue reading

The thugs’ veto visits Orewa

Last month, Julian Batchelor of Stop Co-Governance held a public meeting at the Orewa Community Centre to raise awareness of the dangers of co-governance, and to gather political support to stop it. However, a rabble of badly behaved people sparked a noisy counter protest. This was obviously an attempt to sabotage the event to prevent Mr Batchelor from airing his views. Continue reading

Human Rights Commission partners with Iwi Chairs’ Forum

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is supposedly an independent Crown entity, but this is no longer the case. It appears to be greatly influenced by the National Iwi Chairs’ Forum, a group seeking a profound change to the existing political order. Continue reading

Say no to co-governance petition

Here's our chance to force a referendum on co-governance. Please get in behind a recently-launched petition with the question: “Should New Zealand implement a form of co-governance where 50% of elected representatives to Parliament and local authorities (including community boards and local boards) be elected by voters of Maori descent, and 50% by non-Maori?” Continue reading

Co-governance does far more than ‘tweak’ democracy

Co-governance is a manifestation of the Treaty ‘partnership’ ideology. To date co-governance has largely been confined to Treaty settlements over specific natural resources. However, this is now expanding to cover public services and local authorities. Continue reading

Co-governance advocates bully dissenter on Hauraki Gulf Forum

  Below is an email sent to members of the Gulf Users Group on 28 April 2022: I am writing to bring your attention to an attempt by the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s co-chairs to muzzle Auckland Councillor John Watson, a Forum member, after he shared on social media our NZ Herald advertisement. This advert named the five local body councillors who voted to introduce a new 50:50 co-governance arrangement with mana whenua and ‘others’ to manage the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Furthermore, these five Councillors failed to seek a mandate from the public and ignored the concerns of thousands that had signed our petition or emailed Forum members. Continue reading

Rotorua Lakes Council pushing for Māori co-governance

The Rotorua Lakes Council no longer believes in one person one vote, each of equal value. Instead, it believes that if you are not Māori, your vote should be worth less. The Council is currently pursuing a law change to enable an undemocratic representation model to be implemented. The model it prefers would consist of three Māori ward seats, three general ward seats, and four at-large seats. However, adopting this arrangement would give the 19,791 citizens on the Māori roll 2.6 times the voting power of the 51,618 citizens on the general roll. Continue reading

No place for democracy in Ngāi Tahu grab for political power

Oral submissions on the bill to entrench Ngāi Tahu seats on Environment Canterbury were heard by the Māori Affairs Committee last week – and those who watched the proceedings report that there were considerably more presentations in opposition than those in support. Continue reading


The partnership ideology under the Treaty of Waitangi is poised to extend to the management of Auckland’s 28 Regional Parks if provisions in the Draft Regional Parks’ Management Plan are adopted. Continue reading

Māori seats in local government a step to 50-50 power share

Photo: Andrew Judd hiding from a taniwha Before the ink has dried on the establishment of separate Māori seats on 38 councils, calls for "more equitable representation and a partnership with Māori" in a 50/50 power sharing model have arisen - not only from Māori sovereignty activists, but also from some councillors. Continue reading

Iwi push for 'tripartite governance'

A letter to the New Zealand Productivity Commission from the Auckland Council Mana Whenua Kaitiaki Forum (a collective of the 19 hapū and iwi authorities), dated 22 August 2019, reveals an agenda that turns democracy on its head. The letter talks of an “emerging tripartite governance” – over land and water, comprising central government, local government, and mana whenua. Continue reading

More co-governance to be served up to unsuspecting communities

Increasingly Treaty of Waitangi settlements are including a requirement to enter into co-governance arrangements. The Ngāti Hinerangi Claims Settlement Bill, which had its first reading in parliament on 19th September, is one such settlement. The Bill announces the intention to introduce a co-governance arrangement over the upper part of the Waihou and Piako river catchments areas. Continue reading

Co-governance – the Trojan horse of iwi control

Some think co-governance is being nice and inclusive - but it's not working out that way in practice. All is not well in the co-governance arrangements we have been observing in Auckland. We have reported previously on how the citizens of Devonport have been treated by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority. This unfortunate state of affairs was reinforced at the Authority’s hui on May 6th. Continue reading

The Maori world view - 'military' style gates on Mt Albert

Users of Ōwairaka, the maunga in Auckland's Mt Albert, are objecting to the ‘military’ style gates designed to enforce the summit vehicle ban. Comments include words such as "hideous", "an atrocity", and “out of step with the place's natural beauty”. Continue reading

Advancing the co governance agenda

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’ - Our Water Future: Auckland's water discussion. Continue reading

Auckland Council’s ‘Our Water Future’ - Remember to have your say

Auckland Council recently released a discussion document on developing ‘a water strategy to ensure a secure, sustainable, and healthy future for water in Auckland’. We covered this issue in the March update, but to briefly recap, as to the advancement of a co-governance agenda, concerns centre on the following statements: Continue reading

Draft Auckland Plan Subverts Democracy

In last month’s newsletter, we went into some detail about how the Draft Auckland Plan 2050 is promoting the subversion of our democracy by bestowing extra co-governance rights on a group of citizens based on race, and requiring the recognition of ‘mana whenua’ as rangatira (chief) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland). Continue reading

Update on the fate of Auckland maunga trees

The Tūpuna Maunga Authority – a Treaty partnership body that equally comprises iwi and Auckland Council members - wants to rid Auckland’s volcanic cones (maunga) of all exotic trees - some 2500 in all. Continue reading

Maunga Trees Safe - For Now

Auckland residents Averil and Warwick Norman have won an appeal against the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) decision to fell 345 exotic trees on Ōwairaka/Mt Albert. The Court of Appeal found that the TMA’s plan breached the Reserves Act and didn't carry out appropriate consultation with the public. The decision also concluded Auckland Council acted unlawfully by not publicly notifying the tree felling resource consent. Continue reading

Goff replies to complaint over the Tūpuna Maunga Authority – claiming no mandate to intervene

Last month we reported on the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Mākaurau Authority meeting of May 6, at which members of the public who made presentations were abused and berated by members of the authority. Please see below a copy of a media release by one of the presenters, outlining his concerns. Continue reading

Devonport citizens continue the fight against autocratic decision-making

You may remember the protest in Devonport early last year, whereby a group of citizens pushed back on the Tupuna Maunga Authority’s (TMA) autocratic decision-making concerning Takuranga / Mt Victoria.  Continue reading

North Head now controlled by Tupuna Maunga Authority

As part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement, 14 volcanic cones were given to 13 iwi and hapū of Auckland when the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Deed passed into law in 2014. North Head (Maungauika) is the last of these to come under the control of the Tupuna Maunga Authority (TMA) - when it was transferred from the Department of Conservation on January 18.  Continue reading

Maunga Authority Snubbing Local Community

For an example of what we can expect from a co-governance entity we need look no further than the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority here in Auckland. The Authority is presently imposing its car ban on Mt Victoria-Takarunga, with a minimum of consultation and all but ignoring the normal political channels for approving such a major change, according to Devonport based journalist Geoff Chapple, in an opinion piece published in the NZ Herald on 20th February: Continue reading