The New Zealand Herald
Council closes Waitakere tracks
Radical moves aimed at stopping spread of kauri dieback after failure of earlier management measures
The Auckland Council has confirmed plans to close much of the Waitakere Ranges and high-risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges to contain kauri dieback disease.
The measure follows public feedback on an earlier decision by the council’s environment and community committee in February unanimously in favour of the closure proposals.
The committee voted yesterday to close the parks by May 1 with some exceptions outside the forested area and away from kauri ecosystems. There will be prioritised openings as tracks are upgraded.
Since the disease was discovered about 10 years ago, Auckland Council has invested in various management measures including track improvements, hygiene stations, targeted closures, surveillance and research across the Auckland region.
“Unfortunately, this hasn’t prevented the spread and incidence of the disease, particularly within the Waitakere Ranges, and it was clear that more radical action needed to be taken,” said environment and community committee chairwoman Penny Hulse.
Kauri dieback is well established in the Waitakere Ranges and Awhitu Peninsula and been identified in parts of Rodney. Areas not affected include the Hunua Ranges, Waiheke Island and the Kaipatiki reserves on the North Shore.
The feedback from more than 800 submissions found that 43 per cent believed there were too many proposed track closures and the community impact would be too severe.
About 24 per cent of submitters said they felt the proposal was about right and 25 per cent thought it did not propose enough closures.
Waitakere councillor Linda Cooper said it was important people had access, but at the same time it was careful, managed access and everything possible was done to control the spread out of the ranges.
Councillor Mike Lee said yesterday’s decision was focused on locking people out of the Waitakere Ranges and not solving the problem.
“Shutting tracks may stop people but it won’t solve the disease . . . we could be creating a leper problem for kauri and leaving them.”
Edward Ashby, executive manager of Te Kawerau a Maki, said any council decision should not undermine the rahui restricting access that was placed on the Waitakere Ranges nearly six months ago.
He said the iwi was committed to working with council on any track openings.