Concrete and Kawakawa: Wellington City Council’s War on Biodiversity and Sustainability

In July last year, Wellington Mayor Andy Foster addressed a meeting on the city’s Significant Natural Areas policy.  Foster had one reply to every question and comment:

  • The policy is unlawful  – ‘ah, but biodiversity’
  • The policy is an attack on property rights, an essential New Zealand value – ‘ah, but biodiversity’
  • Home owners are being punished for nurturing bush – ‘ah, but biodiversity’
  • Turning native bush into a liability will have a negative outcome – ‘ah, but biodiversity’

In fact, Council policy is nothing to do with nurturing biodiversity.

‘Significant Natural Areas’

Every morning the tuis wake up in Zealandia, yawn, stretch and say to each other, ‘Whose garden are we going to plunder today?’  And off they go, to find a flowering cherry, laburnum or banksia to gorge themselves on.  ‘We’ll show those tuis’, thinks Wellington City Council.   So Council has decided to get rid of home gardens and replace them with concrete and New Zealand’s six most common natives.

To this end it has set in train a policy of giving reserve status to private property, mostly suburban back gardens presently covered in bush regrowth, garden shrubbery, tradescantia, pine, lawn or even outbuildings.  Such land is the seed for the Council’s vision to return Wellington to native bush, while forcing humanity into high density apartment living.  So far almost 1700 properties are affected, but there will certainly be many, many more in the years to come.

Andy Foster may yearn to recreate Gondwanaland, but it will take hundreds of years for the bush regenerating on former farmland to regain the quality of virgin forest.  The Council’s SNA policy means Wellington residents will be forbidden from doing anything to speed up the process.  Want to dig out one of those kawakawa and put in something a little less common, like an orchid, rare fern, or totara?  You’ll need a resource consent.  Want to transplant a little taupata or pittosporum to somewhere more suitable?  Again, a resource consent will be required.  Want to create a new area of native bush in your back yard?  Get started, then the Council will come in and take it off you.

Want to replace that field of tradescantia and mahoe (designated by council officers as significant indigenous biodiversity of national importance) with a flower garden, shed or new dwelling?  Not a chance.

The fate of flower-loving bees or monarch butterflies, of low status because not indigenous, is not looking good. And nobody is asking our native birds what they think.

Let’s not be fooled by Wellington City Council’s talk about ‘protecting biodiversity’.  Biodiversity is simply a weapon – they can’t understand (they can’t stand) people who love the natural environment.  Hence the vision the council has of our future lifestyle: no home gardens, high rise apartments, and separation of people from nature.

‘Zero Carbon’

The Council’s junk science climate change policy is another example of ideology over ideals.  The evolutionary burst of life forms called the Cambrian Explosion occurred when atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were both (coincidentally) far higher than they are today.  The briefest glance at geological history indicates that Planet Earth has been in a trough in terms of both CO2 and temperature.

Although the earth doesn’t seem to be warming, unfortunately for both biodiversity and Wellington residents, the small increase in carbon dioxide in recent years has had a beneficial effect.  In 2016 NASA reported increased greening globally because of CO2.   Africa’s deserts are now in spectacular retreat.

WCC’s response?  We can’t risk another explosion of biodiversity – must declare a climate crisis.

Let’s destroy the environment to save the planet

WCC loves batteries – to show its commitment, it converted all its trolley buses to battery power.  Never mind that:

‘Resilience’ and ‘Sustainability’

There is nothing more sustainable than a home garden, growing vegetables and fruit trees, maybe keeping chickens, providing recreational opportunities for everyone from toddlers to pensioners, and easy to get in and out of in an earthquake.  Not, of course, in the Council’s warped mindset.  Far, far better to have residents totally dependent on the supermarket duopoly, vulnerable not just to price gouging but to shortages caused by world trade moods, wars, passing viruses etc.  I can’t wait to be in a jerry-built tower block signed off by WCC when the big one hits, or when the government finds an asymptomatic case of influenza and puts the whole of my apartment building into lockdown.

Councillors are desperate to get rid of solid housing stock which has withstood earthquakes for a hundred or more years, in favour of  homes designed to last 50 years.  Given that the fittings of these new buildings will be rubbish (my experience of a rebuild suggests that the life of a new fitting is somewhere between a week and five years), a sizeable part of Wellington will have to be reserved for landfill.

High rise buildings and surrounding streets will be a disaster zone when there is a big earthquake.  Just look at what happened to the central city after the last minor shake from Kaikoura.

Replacing homes with apartments and paving will have repercussions for infrastructure.  Services managed by the Council such as roads, transport and 3-waters are already failing.  Slips in Wellington’s hillier suburbs have increased in recent years because of infill, and the problem is set to blow out.  Councillors aren’t worried – they can always blame the problem on ‘climate change’.

Nobody except Wellington’s councillors would try to suggest that their vision for the future is ‘resilient’ or ‘sustainable’, or serves either biodiversity or humanity.

The Wellington SNA Committee has been trying to create awareness about Wellington’s unlawful SNA initiative, despite the Council’s determination to keep the public in ignorance until it is a fait accompli – to this day very few Wellingtonians not directly affected are aware of this attack on property rights.  You can sign the petition against WCC’s SNA policy here.

3 thoughts on “Concrete and Kawakawa: Wellington City Council’s War on Biodiversity and Sustainability

  1. Always scholarly, always fascinating, thank you, Barbara. Biodiversity is a poorly defined word, as you know, and its value is nebulous in every aspect. There are a couple of typos:

    a trough in terms of both CO2 and atmospheric carbon dioxide

    With CO2 mentioned twice, I’m not sure how to take this! Then there is this:

    very few Wellingtonians not directly affected are unaware of this attack on property rights.

    I imagine you intended “are aware of this attack” but that’s just wild speculation. Anyway, there are probably several elegant ways to express it.

    Please persist with this immaculate, passionate campaign.

    1. Thanks Richard! I have amended! I do get someone else to proofread but then if I tinker or add afterwards …

      Our council has completely failed to inform Wellingtonians that it is blithely putting in place a policy of cancelling private property rights. Incredible.

      1. Ah, tinkering. That I understand!

        Yes, cancelling private property rights, without doubt. Look, I’m not there, so I could be misreading it, but Wellingtonians have for their part failed to inform their councillors that the council is blithely extinguishing the New Zealand way of life for reasons that are perfectly nebulous, deeply mysterious and fully opaque. Time someone stood up and got stuck into them. Oh, you are, aren’t you? Well done.

Leave a Reply