Local iwi impose rahui in the Auckland's Waitakere Ranges

Local iwi have imposed a rahui - a total ban - on entering Auckland's Waitakere Ranges because of kauri dieback. But what does a rahui mean?

Maori expert, Professor Pou Temara says: "It's a custom that bans the use of, that restricts certain areas so that area can be conserved."

"Rahui is also imposed from when there is contamination by association with death."

Traditionally there were consequences for disobeying rahui.

Mr Temara says: "The worst that could happen was that people would die from transgressing that kind of tapu".

Such penalties do not exist today, but the challenge is getting the public to understand and respect the significance of rahui.

The Auckland Council have opted for a partial rahui for the Waitakeres, saying that a total ban would be too difficult to enforce.

Mr Temara says Maori concepts are often difficult for non-Maori to accept because they don't understand the reverence Maori have for the trees.

According to the Māori worldview, people and the environment co-exist.

"When you see a kauri immediately you recognise the mana, you recognise tapu. It's so different from all the other big trees."

"Maori actually see Tane - the lord of the forest embued in the personage of the kauri and I talk about personage because Maori think of the kauri as a living person."

Wayne Mackenzie who manages Whatipu Lodge has refused to take bookings that would break the rahui.

"For me it's really important just to be respectful for the rahui and not walk in this forest until safe protocols are really put in place."

Rewi Spraggon of local iwi says "For us that's a living ancestor - as simple as that - It's a living ancestor and we have to protect them as much as they protect us."

Seven Sharp's Maiki Sherman investigates. Source: Seven Sharp