A person has been charged after entering a Waitākere Ranges park which was closed to the public to prevent the further spread of kauri dieback disease.
The Auckland Council filed its first charges in the Waitākere District Court for breaches to the Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw 2013 after a person entered closed tracks in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park three times over the last five months, the Auckland Council said in a statement.
The first call has been scheduled for January 6, 2020, with each charge subject to a fine of up to $20,000.
The council closed high-risk tracks in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park to the public in May 2018 to protect forested areas from the further spread of kauri dieback.
“While most Aucklanders understand the need for temporary track closures to help stop the spread of dieback, those individuals who flout the rules with no regard for the damage they cause need to be held to account," Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said.
"This prosecution reflects the seriousness of the issue and sends a clear message to anyone breaching closed tracks areas that we will take enforcement action.
“The survival of our most iconic native tree is at risk and the decisions to close the tracks are based on hard evidence about what is necessary to slow and reverse the spread of kauri dieback disease.”
Fourty-nine trespass notices have been issued since the council ramped up compliance efforts six months ago.
"Most Aucklanders have heard the message; they keep off closed tracks and use the cleaning stations so it’s disappointing a few continue to believe the rules are not for them," Auckland Council manager of regulatory compliance, Steve Pearce, said.
Compliance officers educating visitors about the disease will have an increased presence over the Christmas and New Year period in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges, and in local parks where tracks have been closed.