21.10.07 16:50 Age: 10 yrs

Mounting anger at City neglect

Category: Media


Friends of Maungawhau tend to their volcano, but they demand the council helps out more. By Jacqueline Smith

Talk about a return from the wilderness. A raging mass of honeysuckle and blue morning glory strangled other plants on Maungawhau-Mt Eden before Jo Fillery's green fingers got to it four years ago.

Since then, the Mt Eden resident has devoted hours of her week to weeding on the volcanic cone that is the heart of her suburb and a world renowned tourist attraction. She does it out of love - as do the other volunteers and Friends of Maungawhau.

But, after seven years of painstaking planning and paperwork, they would like Auckland City Council to help this year.

Despite featuring in council tourist brochures, their beloved slopes are not up to World Heritage standard. Friends of Maungawhau brave the steep climb to tend to less accessible spots, and maintain the paths they have developed. Mrs Fillery has trapped four possums each year for the past two years, and has seen pohutukawa and tui make a vigorous return.

"Volunteers can't do it all. It's taking a lot effort for what would be a relatively small task for council," says Kit Howden of Friends of Mangawhau.

"Pest control is the most basic thing in park management and yet the possums have been left to destroy the mountain."

The council carries out basic upkeep on the mountain but it's not up to standard for a world tourist attraction, he says.

Kim Parker, of the council, says contractors tend gardens, bush and paths. Drains are cleared, litter collected, signs and graffiti kept under control.

The council also takes care of lights, a public toilet, fences, repairs gates and walls, controls weeds and plants trees. Mr Howden understood money was set aside for the mountain. But in recent conversations with the council, he believes that will go to all volcanic cones and open spaces in the city.

"Even if there is very little money set aside, there's still things that could be done," he says. Friends of Maungawhau have a growing group of enthusiastic volunteers, but they lack a plan.

"We would just like some level of guidance," Mrs Fillery says. Mayor John Banks says he will begin consultation with the Mt Eden community after officers report back in two weeks.

But he won't pursue the previous council's proposal of running GPS controlled buses up the mountain. Cones are just as important as historic buildings but, in the past, they haven't been well maintained, he says.
"This is a very iconic and important historic site, and we want to look after it."

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