Activists Michael Tavares and Johno Smith occupied the Kauri known as Awhiawhi, in Titirangi
Michael Tavares, who occupied a significant kauri tree on private land in Titirangi two years ago has had his New Zealand citizenship denied because of his resulting trespass conviction.
Tavares has gained a lot of support since the occupation of the tree and says its disappointing to have his application denied.
“It was great to see New Zealanders stand together on this issue, so much support flooded in from all over the country - over 27,000 signatures went onto the petition in the four days I spent in the tree. It is testament to just how much kiwis value their environment and the pride they take in protecting it,” he says.
Tavares hoped to stand for the Green Party this year but without New Zealand citizenship he's had to withdraw.
“I moved here six years ago, and felt at home as soon as I arrived. I’m continually struck by the natural beauty of this place, there is a real sense here that we look out for each other, and take pride in caring for our environment.
People seem hungry for a values led government, one that pays more than just lip service to protecting the environment, one that gets homes built, and which looks after our families,” says Tavares.
Tavares applied for special consideration, under section 9A(2) of the citizenship act 1977 which allows the minister to grant citizenship despite a conviction if he or she deems that the circumstances were “out of the ordinary, rare or abnormal”.
“I am disappointed that the Minister has made this decision, I think most New Zealanders would agree that the circumstances around my conviction were exceptional, of a non-violent nature, and in service of a cause greater than myself” said Tavares.
Last week Tavares married his partner of three years, human rights campaigner Eleanor Parkes, who stayed close and supported him through his 86 hour tree occupation, and he intends to continue calling Aotearoa New Zealand his home.
“I will apply for NZ citizenship again in 12 months time. I love this country, its people, its rivers, beaches, mountains and forests. This is my home, and I have a lot to offer, ” says Tavares.