An Auckland politician has been arrested alongside a local "grandmother" as they protested Auckland Council's felling of trees in a local park.
Waitematā Local Board member Sarah Trotman joined longtime Western Springs resident Linda Hill, 72, on Friday morning after she climbed atop a digger at Western Springs Park, where work is underway to remove nearly 200 pine trees as part of a wider restoration plan.
The council says the are trees unstable and pose a safety risk to the public, but protesters disagree and say work to remove them will destroy native trees nearby in the process.
About midday, urban tree campaigner Steve Abel told the Herald Trotman and Hill had just been arrested.
Abel himself was arrested on Monday after halting chainsaws by spending the day sitting in a native karo tree.
Auckland Council attempted to start work this week to remove the 198 pine trees, part of an original grove of more than 700.
The council said the remaining trees, which were about 95 years old, were in poor health and about 31 were dead.
They posed a health and safety risk and that section of the park had been closed since 2018.
After their removal a new native forest will be planted, including pūriri, taraire and tānekaha, providing habitat for a range of wildlife including tūī, grey warbler, and silvereye.
Before her arrest, Hill said the plan would "destroy the character of the Western Springs Forest which is Auckland's tallest inner-city forest and is visible from many parts of the city".
Like others protesting she was also concerned the felling process, which involved cutting a track, would damage the surrounding existing native forest.
They said they had already witnessed a 10 to 15-year-old kauri tree, a 25 to 30-year-old pōhutukawa tree, silver ferns (ponga), whekī, and more than a dozen other self-seeded native trees, including red matipo, coprosma, karo and pittosporum, being felled since work began on Friday.
"It must be halted until a low-interference restoration plan is developed with mana whenua and the local community," Hill said.
Trotman said the community was "rightly outraged" around the project, which was not the "restoration project" they had imagined.
Their protest followed several recent environmental movements in the city: Canal Rd trees in Avondale, Waiheke Marina, and Mataharehare Pā in Dove Myer Robinson Park.
Abel said the tree felling was another example of the council not taking its climate and environmental responsibilities seriously.
"If they are serious about their Climate Emergency declaration, and the Urban Ngahere Strategy, Auckland Council needs to stop being part of the problem.
"They need to listen to the community and halt the felling of Western Springs Forest."
Auckland City West Police area commander Grant Tetzlaff said they had been liaising with Auckland Council around its plans and monitoring the protests.
Three people were arrested today for trespass, he said.
"Police understand and recognise the public's lawful rightful to protest but it is also police's role to ensure people stay safe, and do not put their safety or the safety of others at risk."
The project has been fraught with opposition since it was approved in 2015.
It later went through the Environment Court and mediation before the latest plan iteration was approved by Waitematā Local Board late last year.