Developer charged for felling a tree on his own land ...

Duncan Bayne's picture
Submitted by Duncan Bayne on Sat, 2006-01-21 10:51

Developer facing angry community for pohutukawa destruction


"The charge is punishable by a fine of up to $200,000 or two years in prison, but Judge Fred McElrea deferred sentencing until February 13 for restorative justice. That process is likely to include a meeting at the Maungakiekie Community Board with those directly affected by the cutting down of the tree."


The idea is that residents will be able to express their feelings about the matter, then neogiate with Mr. Shaw some kind of 'compensation for the community' (yes, a bribe paid to local residents for his felling a tree on his own land - I wish I were joking).

Anyway, I intend to give a short speech at the meeting which is scheduled for 1800 on Wednesday 25th January (i.e. this coming Wednesday) at the Onehunga Community Centre. Here's what I have so far ...

I am speaking to you today, Mr. Shaw, because you made a mistake.

You assumed that, because you held the title to land, that land and the chattels upon it were in fact your property. You assumed we live in a country where basic human rights, like property rights, are considered inviolable. Finally, you assumed that the majority of people would recognise the fact that if it wasn't for driven, self-interested wealth creators like yourself, we would still be living in thatched hovels and dying in our thirties.

All of those assumptions were wrong.

In fact, we live in a fascist society, where individual rights are routinely violated, where you must ask permission of bureaucrats to use what is rightly yours, and where parasites who couldn't dream of producing wealth themselves instead impose their will on those who do produce.

Mr. Shaw, you are the victim of a gross violation of your rights.

I fervently hope that you will feel no guilt over this, because it is only by your acceptance of unearned guilt that these parasites can control you without resorting to violence.

I wish you all the best for the future, and I am truly sorry for the crime which has been perpetrated against you.

Sharp, to the point - and hopefully sufficiently short that they won't be able to shut me up before I finish. Hopefully. At any rate, I'll post here after the meeting to let you know how it goes.

I hope there'll be others there providing a vocal moral sanction for Mr. Shaw ... but I doubt it (except perhaps for any Auckland SOLOists who read this ...)

Land 'OWNERship' and 'Restorative Justice'

Rowlf's picture

First, we really must all agree that there is, presently, absolutely no such thing as 'ownership' of any land by any individuals (unless that individual is recognized as THE top govt leader), if by 'ownership' we mean 'one who is recognized by the ruling govt as having the LAST WORD on what's done with what's 'owned'...barring suspicion-of-harm to others.)

Not in NZ, US, or anywhere else.

The governments have 'final say' about how one's land will and will not be used. Ergo, one merely has the 'privilege', not the 'right' of...allowed-and-conditional...USE. If the govt disagrees with one's use of 'one's stop, or else. There is no Individual Sovereignty in existence anywhere re this subject.

Consider: one has paid off the bank mortgage, therefore supposedly 'owns' the land and dwelling thereon. One's retired also. Unless one keeps up with the annual 'tax', one gets booted off by the real 'owner'. The annual tax is a 'leasing' from the govt for one to stay.
Thereafter there's Emininent Domain (or equivalent in varied countries), zoning requirements (regardless of who was where 1st), 'wetlands' concerns, etc, etc.

I'm surprised that anyone's surprised at the arbitrariness of govt-law-manipulators (official or 'back-room') re a 'community' deciding what will and will-not be done with somebody's...tree.

Expect it until laws recognizing Individual Sovereignty come into existence. --- And, they won't until enough become 'politically active' in voting for the right legislators (rather than, so far, everywhere, the wrong ones).

Re 'restorative justice': apparently it has a quite different meaning in NZ than it has in the US. In the US it seems to mean "No PUNISHMENT for crime-perpetrators; only REHABILITATION is apropos, regardless what happened to the victim" --- Strange.

Bravo, Duncan!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Duncan attended the "restorative justice" lynch mob's meeting last night, & did a sterling job injecting sanity there & describing the occasion on my radio show this morning. A terrific piece of activism, Duncan!


Thanx for the clarification

VSD's picture

Thanx for the clarification about Shaw's property - if indeed the RMA stepped in afterwards, declaring the tree protected out of the blue, then I agree with you ...

where I cannot wholy agree with is Peter's defense of property:

- I agree with Peter on the ownership of self-produced sweaters and beer - but my argument is not ownership of production, but of land and products of nature

- also my arguments nowhere state this belief of Cohen's 'joined ownership' that he devaluates - I'm against that rubbish myself

let me use two of his examples to clarify:

- if I take that jug of water not from the Nile but from the one well within 200 miles in the Sahara and it is the last jug of water left - do I have more right to that water simply because I was there first and leave the others to die of dehydration? (note: no accessibility or productiveness measures were taken on that well - it is as it was created by nature)

- same question for the land that the sheep are grazing on - am I entitled to burn down the trees and enclose the field with a fence to grow sheep on it to produce wool for my sweater because I was there first? even if it takes the bread out of the mouth of those who relied on the trees I chopped down to produce the fruit they eat? (his argument of not depriving anybody - again no 'property enhancements' or 'ownership signs' posted on the land)

if both answers are yes (which Peter's article would imply if I understood it correctly), then what would stop me from going anywhere in say the Amazon rain forrest and produce my livelihood there on some patch of unused land? Which I actually tried in my youthful naiveté and got thrown into jail for ...

what would stop me from hiring Earth One (if I could come up with the 'spare change') and colonise parts of the moon? Could it be this international treaty that some governments signed to distribute the ressources on the moon?

Fact is we come back to government ownership of land which prevents me from doing exactly what Peter does in his article to produce his sweaters and pitchers of beer - so how did governmet come by this ownership of land and right to the products of nature to distribute at their sole discretion?

VSD, you ask some good questions ...

Duncan Bayne's picture

... all but one of which are answered here, by Peter Cresswell:

The ‘problem’ of initial acquisition

W.r.t. Shaw buying the land - this isn't a private covenant (i.e., the previous owner selling the land on the condition the trees remain), this is the City Council stepping in and declaring the tree protected (using the RMA).

If it were a private covenant, Shaw would be in the wrong.


Duncan Bayne's picture

It's going to be an interesting meeting ... especially as I plan to stick around for the bribe-negotiation part too, unless they forcibly eject me.

Give them hell Duncan!

JulianP's picture

Give them hell Duncan! I wish I could be there. Smiling

The sickening part of the

Bill Grazier's picture

The sickening part of the linked article was that the tree was "attacked", as if the tree has rights that somehow can be violated.....not exactly the most neutral point of view for the journalism.

A truly stirring statement, Duncan....let us know how it goes when it's delivered!!

Who did he buy the land from?

VSD's picture

... apart from the sickening morality around this whole 'community insult and apology and deferring judgement for a bribe to community', which doesn't need further comment, I'm (mostly) in agreement with you on the violation of property rights - or at least not interested enough in this particular case to care about details like 'why did Shaw buy the land when he new there was this restriction placed on it for the protection of the tree' - let others' worry about the symptoms of a split issue ...

 I'd like to ask a far more basic question though, where this topic of land property obviously got split:

 Who originally sold that land (the trees included) to any individual proprietor?

(not just Shaw as current proprietor who probably bought it from another individual)

That's where this whole land and products of nature property issue got split in the first place and where we must unsplit it, otherwise we'll be dealing with these property violation symptoms ad infinitum ...

I don't have a clear answer yet how to Un-split this issue, but here are some questions I consider when faced with the results of this split:

- who 'owned' that property of land in the first place? or the products of nature growing on it? (as earth and nature are clearly not seen as original proprietor from whom land and products were initially 'taken' - with or without 'consent' - was it free for the taking of anybody?)

and if I accept that, then:

- who 'gave' that property right to the state to 'sell' it to individuals in the first place? (wasn't it rather simply taken, either by ever-present force or by ignorance/absence of any other interested party?)

and going further in my accepting government ownership of land taken by physical or political force, then:

- why can't I as an individual make the same claim to land and products of nature currently not owned by a government or individual proprietor? (knowing there are no more 'white spots' on the world map when it comes to political land property distribution, take this argument to land property on other planets, where this possibility would still apply ... or consider early 'squatters rights' which were only upheld by government force, but never by lawful right to property independant of the 'owning political nation')

and even if I'm accepting our present state of (split) property ownership:

- who has the authority to mediate disputes between interested parties to the ownership of land and products of nature? (wasn't that authority bestowed on governments and laws by rather arbitrary politics which now cause such ridiculous proceedings we see going on all over?)

That's a lot of ifs to swallow to arrive at our present ridiculous land property rights ...

... and wouldn't nature be a violator of my rights growing products on my property without my permission? Just to drive this land-property split to its illogical conclusion ...

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.