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March 5, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Waitākere ranges closure

In an announcement on 20 February 2018, Auckland Council unanimously voted to close “all forested areas” of the Waitākere Ranges, in a bid to prevent the spread of Kauri Dieback Disease.

The Council also declared intentions to close high-risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges – an area yet to be infected with the disease – by 1 May 2018.

In a statement on their website, local iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki stated:

“The Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area Act (2008) directs the Government and Auckland Council to ensure the protection and enhancement of the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area. Te Tiriti o Waitangi requires the Government to protect tangata whenua and our taonga.”

Kauri Dieback Disease is observed predominantly within 50m of walking tracks.

A rāhui – a temporary customary prohibition – was placed on the Waitākere Ranges by Te Kawerau ā Maki on 2 December 2017.

The Auckland Council Environment and Community Committee previously overlooked the rāhui in its 5 December 2017 announcement to keep the Waitākere Ranges open, and close only several high-risk and medium-risk tracks. The decision was described as a ‘balanced’ approach to combating Kauri Dieback Disease.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff justified the December decision by explaining a full closure of the Waitākere Ranges would be near impossible to police.

During an address to Parliament on 21 February 2018, Green Party MP Marama Davidson described the situation in the Waitākere ranges as “one of the greatest biodiversity crises of our time”.

She further encouraged the House to work “at the table” with iwi to protect the kauri – the tūpuna (ancestors) and rangatira (chiefs) of the forest – for future generations.

“We have to think about respecting Te Tiriti; respecting mana whenua; respecting Mātauranga Māori; respecting our generations of children to come; respecting the trees.”

There is currently no cure for Kauri Dieback disease, however closure of the Waitākere Ranges hopes to slow its spread by reducing transmission via human carriers.

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