Lemon tree an act of defiance

19:05, Jan 29 2013
Alison Withers
GUERILLA TACTICS: Green Bay woman Alison Withers has planted a lemon tree on public land to defy Auckland Transport bureaucracy.

Protesters have taken to guerilla tactics to plant fruit trees on public land in defiance of Auckland Transport bylaws.

Auckland Transport charges $1000 to consider applications from anyone wishing to plant a fruit tree on public land.

Most applications will be unsuccessful despite the non-refundable fee, they say.

After a story in the North Shore Times on January 17, Green Bay woman Alison Withers began the Facebook page The Lemon Tree Revolution.

"Initially when I read the article I thought right let's do this to give the big middle finger to this kind of nonsense bureaucracy."

Ms Withers planted a lemon tree on the verge outside her home in an act of rebellion against Auckland Transport.


An Auckland Transport spokesman says trees should not be planted on roadside berms as they will encourage vermin, possibly block sight lines and could become a safety issue by attracting people to roadsides to gather fruit.

The application fee covers the time spent by council departments to assess whether the tree will encroach on existing road use.

The $1000 fee is a social injustice, Ms Withers says.

"The council should be funding and supporting initiatives like these.

"Here we are expected to look after our own berms, we are slaves of the land, yet we are not allowed to make use of it.

"The fact they are charging such a ludicrous amount is corporatism and bullying," she says.

The lone lemon tree outside her property has been nicknamed Victory and will soon be accompanied by a feijoa tree, Ms Withers says.

With almost 100 followers on Facebook Ms Withers says her act of defiance is gaining support and five others have stated they too will plant fruit trees on public land.

She says so far nobody from Auckland Transport has contacted her, but if she had to choose between removing the tree and serving a prison sentence she would go to prison.

The fine for planting a fruit tree on public land without Auckland Transport approval is $1000 plus $50 for every day it remains there.

"If anybody gets their hands on Victory they will have me to answer to."

North Shore Times