Kauri tree occupier Michael Tavares says he can't promise he will take a break from environmental activism, but he can promise he won't be trespassing to climb any more trees in the next year.
The environmental activist was today convicted of trespassing, having pleaded guilty to the charge stemming from his 81-hour protest in March.
No sentence will be imposed upon Tavares unless he appears before the courts in the next 12 months, said his lawyer Vernon Tava outside Waitakere District Court this morning.
"If he does anything like this ... in the next 12 months he can be called back and sentenced.
"As long as he does nothing else that's all he will have, the conviction."
Tavares said he would not risk sentencing but was still committed to environmental causes.
"I can't promise to stay away from trees but I can promise not to suspend myself from trees and trespassing on other people's land," he said this morning.
"We need to think about as Aucklanders what kind of city we want to live in, because this was never about one tree, one property.
"We're not going to solve Auckland's housing and transport issues by following [housing Minister] Nick Smith's vision of continuous suburban sprawl and full congested motorways."
Tavares' tree occupation came after two years of attempts by local residents to engage with the landowners about their plans for the site.Consent for felling of the large kauri and rimu trees was granted on a non-notified basis, meaning the community and mana whenua were not given opportunity to have input.
When an open letter from the landowners on March 12 promised to leave the remaining trees standing, Tavares descended from the kauri and handed himself in to the New Lynn police station.
"I knew from the moment I threw the rope up I would be breaking the law and there was every chance I would be ending up here facing a judge on these matters," Tavares said.
"But it was only by my action outside the law that this tree was able to have a voice and it's still there.
"I take full legal responsibility for having broken the law, but I have no regrets and am very glad the tree is still there."
Tavares initially appeared in court on the April 16 and again on May 1, when he pleaded guilty to the charge of trespassing.
Tavares said he was forced to plead guilty because of the "narrow" scope of New Zealand law.
"The tree and the rights of nature have no standing in a courtroom in New Zealand so my lawyer was not able to speak for the rights of nature.
"I had no option but to plead guilty in this case."
The court magistrate took into account the strong public interest in this case and the peaceful nature in which Tavares undertook his protest, and so applied leniency.
Tavares will only be sentenced if he breaks the two-year trespass order or commits similar occupations within the next year.