Auckland Council votes against closure of Waitākere Ranges

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The Auckland Council decided today to keep the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park open despite a customary prohibition by local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki to close the Waitākere Ranges to save kauri dying from kauri dieback disease.

A motion by the Environment and Community Committee to support the proposed closure, by local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki, was voted against 11-7 by Auckland councillors.

Waitākere Local Council acknowledged that non-compliance is a major issue and that it only takes a single person to pose a risk and spread the disease.

The Auckland Council will instead look to enforce a targeted closure of high-risk and medium-risk tracks as well as enhancing tracks to reduce the risk of contamination, which is primarily caused by people trekking through the forest.

The survival of native kauri in the Waitākere ranges is critical. 

A spokesperson for the local tribal authority Te Warena Taua says, “Our ancestors say that if the kauri trees perish, 17 other varieties of flora and fauna that depend on the ecology of kauri will also perish.”

Local tribal authority Te Kawerau a Maki attended the Auckland Council meeting today to put forward their proposal of a full closure of the park.

“The Crown needs to turn to us because we are the ones who know about these things.  They've only recently arrived here,” says Taua.

An Auckland Council report shows the number of native kauri affected by the kauri dieback disease has more than doubled in five years in Waitākere.

Te Warena Taus says, “I'm encouraging them to do the right thing.  If they don't, the forest will die.”