Describing himself as a conservation ‘foot-soldier’, Paul Bensemann was first involved in native forest issues at age 19, when he drove to Fiordland in 1972 from his Motueka Valley home specifically to work
on the ‘Save Manapōuri’ campaign. 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’. 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 during the Whirinaki campaign over the next two years.
Paul left the movement to work as a newspaper and radio journalist, based for most of the 1990s in the parliamentary press gallery. He became politically active again from the late 1990s 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. He then helped in parliamentary back-room deals that led to three parties – Labour, the Alliance and the Greens – end logging of native trees on Crown land by March 2002.
His two previously published books are Tragedy at Aramoana, Cape Catley/INL, 1991 and Lost Gold, Craig Potton Publishing, 2013.