Kauri tree protester remanded on bail without plea

By Wepiha Te Kanawa
Johno Smith - Photo / file

Titirangi kauri tree protester Johno Smith has been remanded on bail without plea at the Waitākere District Court today for charges of wilful trespassing.  He says he should not be in this position but takes full responsibility for his actions.

After occupying the canopy of an old kauri tree for 13 days, Johno Smith is now paying for his actions.

Smith believes, "I shouldn't be here having to do this, there should be lawyers protecting trees and not just lawyers we should have, as we do a strong community that won't allowed stuff like this to happen.  This is about not just the kauri tree, it's about trees up and down our country which are getting cut down because the watering down of legislation surrounding them."

He's talking about the 150 trees in the Waitākere Forest under threat.  Developers John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith admitted to ring barking the kauri tree on Paturoa Road while Johno was still in there.

"The orders that Lenihan has admitted to sending someone to ring bark the tree, obviously that has caused the most damage you can actually potentially put on a tree," says Smith.

A judicial review of the resource consent is under way for the damaged kauri.  Local iwi have now stepped in, attempting to save the tree by grafting it with traditional methods.

Smith says, "I fully believe in the techniques that are being used to take care of it and hopefully it survives."

The damaged kauri is currently being supervised by local iwi.  Johno Smith will reappear here at court on January 20 where he will make a final plea.