Although no one has actually been seen embracing them, the stand of six 80-year-old pohutukawa on Great North Rd near the SH16 interchange works could use a hug right now. Auckland Transport has approved their removal to widen a road we don't need.
Hugs would also be welcomed by a lot of Aucklanders who have recently begun to see all too plainly what a hellish plan is being put in place between here and the Waterview connection (cost $1.4 billion). The pillars and overpasses can now be seen to be on a scale so colossal they appear not to be made with humans in mind at all.
And all to make the city even more dependent on cars and less likely to get decent public transport, because, well, sorry, but do you have any idea how much the Waterview connection has cost?
More roads for cars do long-term damage to Auckland as well as the regions. It deprives the latter of public funds for development and funnels their people into the mega-city, at a time when many regions' main industry is filling in benefit applications because they have no jobs left.
I don't believe Aucklanders want this. I don't believe any resident ever looked at this part of town and said to themselves: "You know what this needs, don't you? It needs all the houses taken away, the local communities eviscerated, those annoying trees gone and giant multilane motorways put in their place." Nor, to pick a few recent examples, did anyone ever say: "Jeez, that 124-year-old pub's a waste of space. What you want here is a brothel. Let's demolish the Aurora without permission because the chances of any consequences are zilch." Or "My God, but these Spanish mission houses in St Heliers are an eyesore. How soon can we knock them down and throw up a three-storey, mixed-use development?"
Why, even as benign and welcome a proposal as SkyPath - the proposed pedestrian and cycleway across the Harbour Bridge - has found opposition, from the likes of the St Mary's Bay Residents Association and the Westhaven Marina Users' Association. Their complaint is that if people can walk and cycle somewhere it will cause a parking nightmare at each end. Because that's what you get when you provide an alternative to cars: traffic chaos.
Someone can always be found to support barbarism in the name of progress, usually in positions of authority and influence where they will rub shoulders with like-minded old school chums and continue to give the lie to the claim so loved by Auckland Council: that this is one of the world's most liveable cities.
There is an early finalist for most asinine politician's statement of the year - and David Seymour hasn't even said anything yet. But it's hard to see him coming up with something to top this sentence from Police Minister Michael Woodhouse, which started out saying one thing and turned around half way through to say the opposite: "While I firmly support police's zero tolerance for poor driving behaviour that can lead to death and injury on our roads, I also support the application of discretion as articulated in the 4km/h summer tolerance used in fixed speed cameras and the vast majority of mobile devices."
You can't have zero tolerance and discretion. They're mutually exclusive. But then, contradicting yourself with a straight face is an essential skill in politics. If this is the sort of thing we can expect from Michael Woodhouse, we can look forward to a very entertaining, if confusing, next three years.