Protests have caused the Government to discuss a council decision allowing the destruction of old kauri and rimu trees.

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry said she'd look at "all options" and raise the issue at the National Party caucus today after protesters gathered to protect the trees in West Auckland.

Protesters, including Michael Tavares, who climbed 25m up the kauri and stayed there, have so far saved the trees in Titirangi's Paturoa Road.

Both Auckland Council and the Government have so far absolved themselves of responsibility for the trees, which were to be destroyed yesterday to make way for two houses.


Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry said she generally opposed cutting down kauri but she didn't yet know enough about this particular tree to comment in detail.

"As a general rule I don't want to see kauri cut down. We want to save them," she said today. "I don't know why the council have granted it consent."

She said the Government took the protection of kauri seriously, and its efforts to fight Kauri dieback disease were proof of that commitment.

Yet Ms Barry said claims the kauri was up to 500 years old were not proved, and a PhD scholar said the tree was actually 100-200 years old.

The rimu was reportedly 300 years old.

Ms Barry was unsure if the Government would override the council's decision, or was capable of doing so, but said that would be discussed at the National Party caucus today.

"I'm looking at all options."

Some people urging the trees be saved said the developer had made use of loopholes in the Resource Management Act (RMA).


However, Prime Minister John Key said the issue had nothing to do with the RMA.

Mr Key said this morning he didn't have a view on the the kauri tree, as he didn't know enough about it, and had not read a 70-page report into the Titirangi development.

"The council is making the decision."

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said he'd also not yet read the detailed report preceding the decision to chop the trees down.

Dr Smith, who is also Building and Housing Minister, said the RMA gave councils discretion to protect trees.

He said councils always needed to "practically balance" development and conservation.

"I'd much prefer that while we develop our housing areas, we retain particularly as many of these kauri trees as possible. However, those decisions are always going to rest with Auckland Council."

Labour MP and former party leader David Cunliffe offered to join Mr Tavares up the kauri.

Mr Cunliffe also blamed changes to the RMA for the planned destruction of the trees.

Labour leader Andrew Little said as much as he'd like to join Mr Cunliffe, he "didn't see a space in his diary" to do so.

Mr Little said it was "tragic" such an old native tree could be cut down.

"Some things ought to be preserved and concerned."

Auckland Council granted resource consent to build on the site and remove the trees. The Council said yesterday it had no mandate to revoke consent.

An online petition urging Auckland Council and Auckland mayor Len Brown to save the kauri and rimu received more than 13,500 signatures by 1pm today.

The petition author, writing on the Greenpeace-hosted Toko site, said New Zealanders had to do everything possible to save kauri, especially given the threat to these trees from dieback disease.