Starting mahi at a new place can be complex under the best of circumstances. Starting mahi in a completely new type of organisation, under a level 4 lockdown, during an international pandemic, adds its own kind of complexity. However, isolation helps to enable reflection, and moments of reflection had me thinking about how I got here….

One year ago today I awoke in a native rākau (tree) suspended meters above the ground at 58 Canal Road in Avondale.

Zane Wedding occupies a tree at the Canal Road tree protest

A 100 year old pūriri tree, he mara (a garden) for generations of manu o Tāmaki Makaurau (birds of Auckland).  

I remember the pīwaiwaka (fantails) and the tui, flitting amongst the fallen trees, salvaging what they could from a season literally cut short only days earlier. 

Though the ruru remained, by now the kererū had left, she had slept in the same rākau with me for the first 3 days of our occupation. I had such a crush on her she was ātaahua. Since she left I thought about her daily, like an ex-girlfriend who had just up and disappeared. Where had she gone? 

She had been a kaitiaki amongst the city’s oldest and rarest native rākau. Black maire, kawaka, hinau, matai. Her own secret grove. Sleeping in the giant totara, feeding from the giant pūriri, she had been forced to leave, just when we had come to join her.

Canal Road tree protest

Ia atapo, (every early morning) because of this small grove of rākau, the song of these manu would drown out the sound of the city on Canal Rd. A daily waiata tautoko for the kaitiaki defending this ngahere, and each morning our resolve to remain grew stronger through this song. This is the same song heard by my Tipuna. A song that should never be lost to any city in Aotearoa. 

Tied to te taiao day and night, living amongst the rākau, your connection to these beautiful living things becomes more than just a climbing rope. In the weeks to come I would begin to talk to the tui like they were old friends. New friends (the human kind) would come to join us in the canopy. Herea ki te taiao (bound to te taiao). The trees may have fallen but we remain connected i nga wa kātoa.

My Tupuna were bound ki te taiao. Our Matauranga our tikanga our taonga are all still found inside the natural enviroment. I am so honoured to honour their struggle and their promise to defend this whenua. They want us defending our whenua. They want me working for te taiao.

Canal Road tree protest

There is a shifting baseline in Aotearoa. The song of the manu is giving way to the sound of the city. My Tupuna don’t want me to accept that. And nor do yours.

So here I am (like the whole of Aotearoa), stuck in a box staring into a screen, dreaming for a better world outside these walls, and wondering how I can be part of making this dream a reality at Greenpeace.

PETITION: Save our urban ngahere

Join the call to bring back general tree protection

Sign the petition