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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tribute to Judith Holtebrinck by Cnr. Christine Fletcher

Judith helping to set up the
Love Your Mountain Day display
at the Village Centre
6 Dec 2012
Judith Holtebrinck was a long-time supporter of FoM and a close personal friend of several of us. When the renovated Mt Eden Methodist Church and Village Centre opened in 2010, Judith was appointed the centre manager, a position she held until just a few months before her death on 6 August 2017 at the age of 48.

Councillor Christine Fletcher is a board member of the Mt Eden Methodist Church Charitable Trust. She posted the following tribute to Judith on Facebook on 11 August, the day of Judith's end-of-life celebration at the church.

Remembering Judith Holtebrinck

by Councillor
Christine Fletcher

It was with great sadness the Mt Eden community came together today to farewell Judith Holtebrinck, a fearless and visionary campaigner whose contributions to improving the quality of life in our Mt Eden community, and in Auckland generally, are tremendous. While she never sought personal accolades for her considerable achievements promoting sustainability and inspiring urban development, all Aucklanders should know the champion who tirelessly, over many years, helped secure important policy changes that many take for granted today.

Judith and Rev. Saane Langi at the Little Day Out
4 March 2017
Judith and I first met when I was Mayor of Auckland City. Her passionate advocacy for waste minimization and planting fruit trees on public reserves and berms were infectious and resulted in a wonderful legacy of green across the city.

She was a part of the Transition Town movement in Kingsland and wanted to plant fruit trees that everyone could enjoy and also because of rising food prices. In her own words: "It's a nice thing to do for the community. The idea is that kids on the way to school can pick a piece of fruit or have trees near playgrounds."

As a founding member of The Mount Eden Village People, along with Michele Donovan, Sara Rishworth and Gail Batten, the group focused mainly on four projects – fruit tree planting, minimising waste, establishing a community garden and holding workshops on growing food. One of their first goals was to make Mt Eden the first plastic bag-free suburb in Auckland.

Judith and husband Dave at the Wish Tree
on Maungawhau, Love Your Mountain Day
7 Dec 2014
The landscape photographer had noticed bags turning up as rubbish in unexpected and really remote places like Rangitoto. She spoke to the local business association and put on a photography exhibition to help raise awareness.

The strategy for minimizing waste was another joint community effort. Judith persuaded the merchants in Mt. Eden Village to get involved with the campaign. Today, cafés in the village donate their coffee grounds which are used for gardening; a pig farmer collects leftover produce from a local fruit and vegetable shop; while a goat owner collects deli leftovers. The group also set up battery recycling stations at Civic Video and the MBE Copy Shop.

According to Judith, "By changing the environment people will realise there are opportunities to recycle and make the changes at home as well."

I regret that some of this progress has been lost with the amalgamation of the Auckland Council. But I also believe this will change over time because Judith’s work and examples of what can be achieved when people in communities work together, are a legacy to be drawn upon in the future.

Aucklanders should also know of her inspiring leadership in establishing Mt Eden Village Centre. This precious asset, so hard fought for by our Mt Eden community, is the result of a partnership between the community, Council and the Methodist Church. Such partnerships can make for challenging governance. It took an outstanding leader such as Judith, by gentle persuasion and regard for all parties, to make the Centre a reality.

Judith was both a leader and a teacher. What I loved about her particular style of leadership was her inclusiveness, kindness, generosity and thoughtful respect for everyone. These are so important in a city such as Auckland where diversity is a cornerstone of our growth and development.

I hold this marvellous woman in the highest professional and personal regard. We salute you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Judith. We have lost a champion, but your legacy will long endure.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Auckland Heritage Festival guided walk

On Saturday 7 October, Friends of Maungawhau chairperson Kit Howden will lead a guided walk from Parnell's Holy Trinity Cathedral to the summit of Maungawhau and Mt Eden Village. 

Meet us at Terry Stringer's Mountain Fountain in the cathedral forecourt at 10:30 am.

Discover walks and waterways, reserves and rock gardens. Find out how the city has developed, and look at issues related to intensification and the protection of green space in Auckland.

You can choose the whole walk (about four hours) or join us partway.
Bring water and lunch to eat in the grounds of Highwic House (optional entry inside the House costs $8). 

In the afternoon we'll visit Withiel Thomas Reserve and Government House grounds and garden. Our gardener guide will meet us at Savannah Place at 2:00 pm.

Reasonable fitness and sturdy footwear are recommended.
The Outer Link bus connects the start/end points and midway locations.

You can read about the Mt Eden rock forests in this interesting article in the New Zealand Geographic magazine.

For more information, please contact us

Alfred Sharpe, The environs of Auckland, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki,
watercolour, purchased 1935
The Mountain Fountain at Holy Trinity Cathedral


Newmarket Park
Newmarket Park

Newmarket Park
Highwic House

Withiel Thomas Reserve
Withiel Thomas Reserve

Government House grounds
Government House grounds

Thank you, Albert-Eden Local Board!

We acknowledge a "quick response" grant of $544 this year from the Albert-Eden Local Board for purchase of a saw, saw blades, and 50 pairs of gloves. Thank you for your support. We have already made good use of the saws and gloves.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Farewell Sue Bulmer

Dr Susan Bulmer
17.2.1933 – 6.10.2016

On Saturday 12 November 2016 several Friends of Maungawhau were among the large crowd gathered at the Blockhouse Bay Boat Club to celebrate the life of Dr Susan Bulmer, pioneering archaeologist in New Guinea and New Zealand, founder of the Friends of Maungawhau and namesake of the hefty New Guinea fruit bat, Aproteles bulmerae.
Sue on Maungawhau
September 2003
Sue Bulmer (née Hirsh) was born in Ithaca, New York and grew up in California. It wasn't until 1957, the year she arrived in New Zealand as a 24-year-old Fulbright scholar, that she got properly hooked on archaeology. Her earlier studies at Cornell University (BA) and the University of Hawaii (MA) were in anthropology. Sue had been introduced to field archaeology in Hawaii, and once in New Zealand she leapt into excavations in Auckland and field trips to the Coromandel. By all accounts, it was the music making and camaraderie as much as the excitement of digging that fuelled her enthusiasm. In 1958 she enrolled for MA studies in archaeology at Auckland University under Jack Golson, an early champion for Auckland's volcanic cones and the only archaeologist on the university staff at that time.

In 1959 Sue began her pioneering archaeological fieldwork in the New Guinea highlands, initially in the company of her newly-wed husband, anthropologist Ralph Bulmer. In the years following their return to New Zealand in 1960, Sue had three children (Alice, David and Kenneth) in quick succession, delaying completion of her MA until 1966. The family spent another five years in Papua New Guinea. Sue's research in Port Moresby became the basis of her PhD which she began in 1973 and completed in 1978, mainly to improve her chances of securing a position at a university or museum. Her marriage, however, was not a match made in heaven. She and Ralph divorced in 1980.
A collection of items relating to Sue's life and career.
She received a Living Legend award
from Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard in 2005

Outspoken and far-sighted, Sue was an independent scientist for most of her career, apart from 15 years at the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand) and the Department of Conservation from 1979 until her retirement in 1994. As the HPT's first Northern Regional Archaeologist, Sue built up a team of more than 20 archaeologists and contract staff who carried out many site surveys in the Auckland region and brought a strong focus on archaeological research to the HPT's role.  

Sue indicating erosion on Maungawhau
November 2008
Sue first encountered Auckland's volcanic cones in 1957 on a bus tour for members of the newly-formed Auckland Archaeological Society. When Thor Heyerdahl visited the major Auckland maunga in 1965, he was surprised that none had ever been mapped. It was Sue who in 1978 produced the first archaeological map of Maungawhau, from survey work done by graduate students. Her map was published in the 1986 Management Plan for Maungawhau and is reproduced in our book, Maungawhau: a short history of volunteer action (2014). It is also available on our website, along with Sue's 2008 descriptions of the layout. Sue used to bring copies of her map to our meetings and urge us to mark anything of historical interest we might be lucky enough to discover.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Sue completed a great many archaeological studies and papers on the Māori settlement of Tāmaki Makaurau, including pā sites on the cones, gardens on the volcanic fields, and early historic sites in downtown Auckland. She campaigned for preservation of the Otuataua stonefields and for World Heritage status for the Auckland volcanic cones a decade before DOC took up the cause. In 1981, when the summit carpark on Maungawhau was repaved, Sue carried out the only archaeological excavations that have ever taken place on the mountain. Her passion for Māori history and her recognition of the immense value of the maunga as cultural landscapes was far in advance of the local authority management ethos through those frustrating decades. 
Sue talking to the developer in protest at the bulldozing
of an archaeological site. NZ Herald 15 March 1986
Sue and Ian Fish preparing for Love Your Mountain Day
29 November 2007
Love Your Mountain Day
2 December 2007
Sue's academic and advocacy work, and her connections with Māori historians, led naturally to her gathering together a group of conservationists, colleagues and local citizens to campaign for the maunga's preservation. The Friends of Maungawhau was incorporated in 2002 under a constitution written by Sue.  

Never one to shrink from robust debate or forthright action, Sue combatted the powers that be on every level. In 1986 when a developer was demolishing houses at the entrance to the domain, she stood in front of the bulldozer and brought the demolition work to a halt. Her petition for a land swap ultimately failed and Honeywell House now occupies the site. 

Sue regarded Maungawhau as a single historic heritage site and argued in her many submissions to Council and government that the volcanic cones should be administered as a special reserve category by a dedicated trust or board with its own trained staff. Her vision was to remove the cars and cattle and conserve the entire maunga. She supported our ecological conservation work and participated in Love Your Mountain Day every year it was held (2006-2014). 

In 2014, the year in which we published our book dedicated to Sue, much of what she had advocated since the 1980s came to pass. Following an historic 2012 Treaty settlement, the Tūpuna Maunga o Tāmaki Makaurau Authority was established as an independent statutory body and Maungawhau is now administered by a small, dedicated team in Auckland Council. 

Sadly, Sue's health deteriorated in her latter years after the death of her second husband,  psychiatrist Terry O'Meara, in 2010.

The celebration of her life was a lively and musical affair, including a spirited rendition of
The Ballad of Bulmer’s Fruit Bat written by her son, David Bulmer. People commented on Sue's ready smile and her ability to inspire others.

Part of Sue's legacy for the Friends will be a willingness to actively lobby for the cones and to form relationships with all those who wish to preserve them. Sue's determination, feisty attitude and big-picture vision will continue to be an inspiration to us all.

Material was drawn from the following sources:
Bulmer, Alice. 2016. A matter of life and death (3): Farewell, Sue.
Friends of Maungawhau. 2014. Maungawhau: a short history of volunteer action. Friends of Maungawhau, Auckland.
Golson, Jack. 2016. Susan Bulmer, an archaeological pioneer. Archaeology in Oceania 51 Supplement 1: 11–18.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Future Parks and Community Action

Kit Howden presents a free talk and discussion on the future of parks and protected areas in an intensified city.

Time: 7:30pm on Tuesday 9 August
Venue: Mt Eden Village Centre (in the church opposite Circus Circus)

Kit has led the Friends of Maungawhau for many years and is well known as an advocate for urban green space, regional parks and biodiversity. He recently returned as a delegate to the 8th World Rangers Congress held in Colorado, and worked as a volunteer ranger in Yellowstone National Park.

Rangers from all over the world reported the same concerns: under-resourcing, pressures on green space and front-line staff, and lack of support and planning for the future.

Kit is concerned about the same pressures here: helicopter tourism in national parks, eroded tracks on Auckland's maunga, and threats to local and pocket parks that provide green space and walking access.

Following his talk there will be time for discussion and refreshments. The aim of the meeting is to get more people involved in volunteering and advocating for parks, and to discuss how we can take action together.

Sunday 31 July was World Ranger Day. In the past year 107 rangers (probably more) have died in the line of duty. Nearly half were killed by poachers. The Friends of Maungawahu will be collecting at this event for The Thin Green Line Foundation. Your donation would be very much appreciated.

For more information, please email Kit or call him on 6301490 or 0276671059.

Lowering the flag
after the Orlando massacre.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

AGM and guided geology walk on Maungawhau

Our AGM this year will be held on Saturday 25 July in the Gallery Room at Eden Garden. Meet outside the entrance at 1:00pm for free admission to the garden. There's plenty of parking in Omana Ave if you're coming by car.

The brief AGM will be followed by a guided walk led by renowned geologist Bruce Hayward, co-author of Volcanoes of Auckland. He'll show us some of the volcano's internal plumbing visible in Eden Garden, and then proceed up through the top gate to the summit of the maunga.

The walk will take from one-and-a-half to two hours, with plenty of time to come back down through Eden Garden for afternoon tea before it closes at 4:00pm.

Everyone is welcome - especially those who might like to join our Tuesday weeding group, or help with advocacy for Auckland's maunga and help shape our future as a volunteer group. This year our long-standing chair, Kit Howden, will be standing down. So we need new people and fresh ideas.

For more information about the AGM, please email us or call April on 027 217 3540 / 09 6310057.

For an interesting elucidation of the Maungawhau volcanic cone, see the Auckland Geology Club's magazine, Geocene, issue 11, July 2014. You can download it from the GeoClub website.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Proposed car ban on Maungawhau (2)

Peter Bromhead, NZ Herald 12 Dec 2014
At their meeting on 2 February, the Maunga Authority proposed that motorised vehicles be banned from the summit of Maungawhau. A final decision will be made on 13 April 2015.

Meetings of the Maunga Authority are open to the public. If you want details of the time and venue of future meetings, please write to:

The Friends of Maungawhau have campaigned for many years to remove vehicles from the summit. We fully support the car ban proposal.
Here are our reasons:

•      The maunga are important cultural sites to Māori. The summit (tihi) and crater (Te Ipu a Mataaho) of Maungawhau are of special significance. A constant stream of cars, congestion, noise and manoeuvring for space are not in keeping with the respect that the maunga deserves.

•      One of the objectives in the 2007 Maungawhau/MtEden Management Plan – a statutory document – is "to promote and prioritise pedestrian access to the summit and around the site." This is to be achieved by "the restriction of vehicle access to the summit (with support for access for disabled or older people)." 

The bus ban in December 2011 was the first step towards implementing this policy. Some of those who protest about the Maunga Authority's proposed car ban may not be aware that the 2007 management plan was finalised after two rounds of public submissions beginning in January 2005. In total, 350 submissions were received. To quote from the Hearing Panel's report, "331 submitters broadly supported all of the plans relating to enhanced visitor experience and this included the intent to restrict the summit area to pedestrians only."

Thus, the debate about banning cars from the summit took place nearly a decade ago through a formal procedure required under the Reserves Act 1977. The Friends of Maungawhau have lobbied ever since then for the management plan to be fully implemented. The failure has not been the public process, but the political will to implement statutory obligations.

•      Although they're no longer quarried for road building or used as dump sites, the maunga still suffer from misuse. Erosion, rutted tracks, desire lines and vandalism all indicate that unrestricted access is unsustainable and the problems will only get worse. If we recognise that Maungawhau is a sensitive protected area and heritage site, then we must take steps to halt the damage being caused by people and cars. This requires a comprehensive approach on several fronts including track upgrades, visitor information and limits on universal access. We don't see the car ban as the complete solution, but as one component in a set of measures to limit damage and protect the mountain.

•      Some people have argued that since a road already exists, there can't be any harm in cars continuing to use it. In fact, pedestrian access to all the maunga is guaranteed by law (under the Ngā Mana Whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau Collective Redress Act 2014 and Reserves Act 1977). There is no such provision for vehicles. The assumed right to drive up the maunga is in direct conflict with the legal right to walk on the maunga. People walking up the narrow summit road must be constantly vigilant and get out of the way of approaching cars. When cars are removed, the summit road becomes an leisurely paved path with changing views of the surrounding cityscape.

As we have demonstrated over the past eight years on Love Your Mountain Day, walking is the best way to fully enjoy the maunga, to appreciate the views across to the other maunga and visualise how they must have looked centuries ago when Māori lived on the terraces and cultivated gardens on the volcanic fields.

•      A vehicle ban will not preclude access for maintenance or access for the elderly and disabled. Those who cannot get to the summit on foot will have alternatives. The existing shuttle and guiding service is contracted by Auckland Council to Tāmaki Hikoi at a cost of $104,000 (for the year ending in April 2015). It caters almost exclusively to tourists, many of whom do not speak English as their first language. The Tāmaki Hikoi guides have little call to offer any actual guiding service or interpretive information to visitors. The Friends of Maungawhau believe the free shuttle service, paid for by rate payers, should be placed on a commercial footing but remain free of charge to residents who have a disability or hold a mobility parking permit.

•      Contrary to the predictions of commercial tour bus operators, the removal of buses from the summit road in December 2011 has been a great success. Tourists are perfectly happy to disembark and walk the 10 minutes from the bus park to the summit, enjoying the views and discovering the crater and the city panorama.

On 1 December 2014, the manager of Auckland Council's Volcanic Cones team reported to the Maunga Authority that "restrictions of heavy vehicles in 2011 on Maungawhau…has resulted in not only a significant reduction in congestion at the summit but also a change in attitudes of visitors. This change has seen steady numbers of visitors choosing to walk rather than drive."

•      The Maunga Authority has been in existence only since September 2014. It operates with a very small support team in Auckland Council. Its website went live only two weeks ago.

It seems to us that communication with stakeholders and the general public is not regarded as a priority. The Maunga Authority failed to warn people about the early gate closing on Maungawhau, and hasn't gained any support by drivers being locked in. Transition to successful co-management and better care of the maunga depends on open discussion and real effort to communicate, engage and inform people including mana whenua, local boards, volunteers, visitors and residents. This responsibility can't be left to a council officer in reactive mode. The Maunga Authority members themselves must step up and make their plans and policies known and understood in advance of any actions they may take.

The Friends of Maungawhau are a small volunteer group with a long track record of advocacy for the volcanic cones and practical work on the ground. We encourage debate to identify the best ways forward to manage and care for our protected areas such as Maungawhau. While feelings and emotion are important, logic and reason is necessary.