The man who climbed a Titirangi kauri tree to stop it from being felled has been ordered to pay $1000, but it could have been a lot worse.
Johno Smith, 33, spent two weeks up the tree in a community-led initiative in December in a bid to stop the owners cutting it down to develop the site.
When he arrived at Waitakere District Court today - his birthday - he believed the developers John Lenihan and Jane Greensmith were seeking $20,000 in reparation.
Police withdrew that request this morning but Smith was still ordered to pay them the four-figure sum, as well as $150 in court costs.
"I still think it's ridiculous a property developer can financially benefit from a situation like that," he said.
Though he was "really happy" to avoid a heftier penalty, Smith said he was frustrated with the lack of legislation protecting native flora.
"What we need is laws to protect them, not me climbing trees to protect them," he said.
"Communities up and down New Zealand are facing the same issue and I guarantee they'll continue to stand up and protect them if the law isn't doing it."
Smith only descended from the kauri after it was ring-barked by chainsaws on December 23.
Protest organiser Aprilanne Bonar at the time described their actions as vengeful.
"It was a last-ditch attempt, it was vengeful, it was without integrity. This is what we've been dealing with for the last three years," she said.
She said those wielding chainsaws were intent on delivering a fatal blow to the tree as ringbarking stopped the flow of water to the canopy.
The protesters took the dispute to the High Court last year where they were granted a judicial review of the way resource consent was granted for felling the kauri.
That hearing will take place in August.
Smith was one of four Greenpeace protesters who scaled the walls of Parliament to draw attention to the issue of climate change last year.
The quartet, who had donned red overalls and carried solar panels with them, were each fined $750 when sentenced in Auckland District Court in October.
Spending the majority of his birthday in court today had been "stressful" but Smith said it would be capped off in the most apt way.
A member of the local community had invited him to their property to plant a kauri this evening.