Kauri tree-top protester to appear in court today

Kauri tree-top protester Johno Smith will appear before the Waitakere District Court this morning for sentencing on a charge of wilful trespass.

Smith occupied the kauri in Titirangi for thirteen days after property developers John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith sent contractors to fell the tree, despite coming to an earlier agreement it would not be removed for housing.

At Smith’s previous court appearance, the matter was adjourned so that a restorative justice meeting could take place between both parties.

Smith says, “I took all steps required to undergo restorative justice with the Lenihan’s but they didn’t want to meet with me; instead they want $20,000 in reparations.

I was prepared from the start to accept the full consequences of the law for my actions but I think it’s ridiculous that property developers like Lenihan can be financially compensated in situations like this.

I acted on behalf of the community's wishes to take a stand and ensure that the ancient kauri wasn’t cut down for excessive development.

Watered down legislation means our trees aren’t being protected. We shouldn’t have to climb trees to save them, our laws should protect them. But communities will keep standing up for them if they have to and I’ll keep making a stand for what’s right,” Smith said.

Last year, Michael Tavares pleaded guilty to trespassing after occupying the same Kauri for over 80 hours in May.

After claiming the property developers had not kept their promise, Smith took over in December and lived in the tree until just before Christmas.