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About the Author

Describing himself as a conservation `foot soldier', Paul Bensemann was first involved in native forest issues at age 19. He drove to Fiordland in 1972 from his Motueka Valley home specifically to work on the `Save Manapouri' campaign, before a short spell as a national park field worker. Four years later, he joined the New Zealand Forest Service head office as a spy for the Native Forests Action Council (NFAC), spending nine months leaking information that the department was refusing to release on its planned industrial-scale West Coast `beech scheme', for example, on soils, freshwater fish, insects and birdlife. In 1978, while secretary of NFAC's Wellington branch, he and wife Elsie Ellison joined the Pureora tree-top occupation, helping protest leader Stephen King with community liaison at Mangakino and the milling town of Barryville. The couple did similar iwi-liaison work during the Whirinaki campaign over the next two years. Paul left the movement during the 1980s and 1990s to work as a newspaper and radio journalist, based for most of time in the parliamentary press gallery. He became politically active again in the late 1990s and early twenty-first century as a senior staff member for the Green Party. This included public relations support for Green co-leaders Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitzsimons as they backed the Native Forest Action (NFA) tree-top campaign at Charleston. Paul then helped the MPs in parliamentary backroom deals that led to three parties - Labour, Alliance and the Greens - end logging of native trees on Crown land by March 2002. His two previously published books are Tragedy at Aramoana, 1991, and Lost Gold, 2013.

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