Iwi wants Auckland's Waitakere Ranges completely closed to public as kauri 'facing extinction' through dieback




Local iwi and community members say the Government is moving too slowly to protect Kauri trees from dieback in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges.

Iwi and West Auckland community members say the government are moving too slowly.
Source: 1 NEWS

Hundreds of people continue to make their way into the ranges despite the area being heavily infected with kauri dieback, a disease spread by people walking though the forest.

1 NEWS found many of them unaware of the cultural restriction, or "rahui", put in place by local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki to keep people out.

That's frustrating for the iwi, with spokesman Edward Ashby saying the kauri could be extinct within a generation.

"They're facing extinction. Let's not mince words, they could be gone with in a generation," he said. 

The iwi is calling for a stop to the confusion and for the entire forest to be officially closed to the public, but Auckland Council has only moved to close the tracks most at risk.

Forty-two of the 140 tracks in the Waitakere Ranges have now been closed because of kauri dieback. All the closed tracks have clear signage and some even have physical barriers. But locals say that hasn't stopped some people from going in. 

"The last few days, I've noticed that the carparks at all the entrances have been chocca-block, like more than ever I've seen before. It's very disappointing and I think we need to do a lot of education," said John Edgar of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.

Auckland Council wants to boost its spending on kauri dieback, and the Government is developing a national pest management plan to combat the disease.

"What we've been doing in the last few years clearly hasn't stopped the spread of the disease and it's getting worse. So we are going to have to take a bit of a review, a step back, and and have a look at what we're doing," said Andrew Little, the Government's duty minister. 

But the iwi says that action needs to come now. 

"We need the Crown to come and help with something like a controlled area notice because that gives you your legal enforcement. So people can be pulled up for spreading this pathogen around," Mr Ashby said.

A mighty native species is facing an uncertain future, not only because of disease but humans too.

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