PRESS RELEASE: for immediate release Tuesday 1 May 2018
WAITĀKERE RANGES CLOSURE
Auckland Council voted on 10 April to close the forested area of the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park, with some exceptions, by 1 May 2018. The Council’s stated criteria for exceptions (tracks that can be opened) include “whether they are outside the forested area; the track surface is to a standard where a person can arrive with clean footwear and gear, walk that track in any weather conditions and not have soil on their shoes as they leave the track and after using a hygiene station; or they are in an area away from kauri”.
The rāhui was placed over the forested area of Waitākere Ranges by Te Kawerau ā Maki on 2 December in response to the imminent danger of kauri extinction and forest collapse. One in five kauri are infected with kauri dieback disease, and the rate is accelerating. There is no cure, and the main cause of spread is humans. The rāhui is to protect the kauri forest and ensure it still stands for future generations. It is a breach of tikanga for the public to enter the rāhui area unauthorised. The rāhui does not apply to beaches, open public spaces adjacent to beaches, open areas such as golf courses or farmland, coastal walks outside of the forest, public roads, or bodies of water.
Te Kawerau ā Maki have worked constructively with Council officers on the proposal since the 10 April decision, including a joint audit of all tracks on the list of “exceptions”.
Te Kawerau ā Maki have agreed to the opening of 21 of the 44 ‘track exceptions’ Council consulted on, as the first of the “rolling openings”. Combined with our list of “Tracks excluded from the rāhui” released in December there are now a total of 31 tracks in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park that we agree can remain open. This list is attached.
Council have proposed to open 2 further tracks and Te Kawerau ā Maki are still in discussions about these. There is a possibility of a second Phase of agreed rolling openings in the weeks ahead, consisting of some of the balance of the 44 ‘track exceptions’ that are still being upgraded.
The balance of the 44 ‘track exceptions’ has not been agreed today as they do not meet minimum temporary standards and are not safe for kauri. Te Kawerau ā Maki have clear expectations that all forested track infrastructure will be upgraded to a much higher and long-term standard in the near future to ensure the needs of public access do not result in the death of the forest. Tracks can also be re-closed should their standard deteriorate and become unsafe.
Te Kawerau ā Maki expect that Auckland Council will now undertake a strategic rationalisation of the entire track network in the Waitākere Ranges before any other track openings will be proposed, as agreed by the Council on 10 April. We will not agree to any further consideration of track openings on an ad hoc basis until this work is done.
Edward Ashby, Executive Manager of Te Kawerau a Maki, says “this threat to our native forests is one of the biggest biodiversity challenges facing New Zealand and the Waitākere rāhui is one of the largest indigenous conservation efforts in the history of this country. Te Kawerau a Maki is pleased to work with our Treaty partner, Auckland Council in leading the response to kauri dieback which has to date gone unabated. The partnership with Auckland Council and the people of Auckland demonstrates a positive and modern New Zealand ready to roll up our sleeves and work together to protect our shared heritage.”
What this means for joe or jane public is that (1) the rāhui over the wider forested area of the Waitākere Ranges still stands, (2) that we are still asking for people to please stay out of and away from the forest altogether and go elsewhere, (3) but that if people do go into the Ranges to recreate anyway they stick to the 31 kauri-safe tracks that Te Kawerau ā Maki have agreed to and ensure they have clean boots both in and out of any areas.
List of tracks agreed by Te Kawerau ā Maki:
|Lookout Track (Arataki Visitor Centre)|
|Marawhara Walk (Whites Track is closed) (Piha)|
|Huia Dam Road (to dam only) (Watercare)|
|Pipeline Road & part of Pipeline Track (Watercare)|
|Upper Nihotupu Dam Road (Watercare) and Upper Nihotupu Walk|
|Waitakere Dam Walk|
|Exhibition Drive Walk (Watercare)|
|Anawhata Beach Track|
|Cave Rock Track|
|Laird Thompson Track|
|Lion Rock Track|
|Long Road Track (partial – from road end to where paddock meets forest)|
|McLachlan Monument Track|
|Signal House Track|
|Spraggs Monument Track|
|Tasman Lookout Track|
|Te Henga Walkway (DOC)|
|Kakamatua Beach Walk|
|Lake Wainamu Track (eastern side)|
|Mercer Bay Loop Track|
|Additional Non-Forested Tracks|
|Huia lookout track|
|Tracks at Hinge Bay beach (Huia)|
|Track to Whatipu beach|
|Whatipu caves track|
|Track to bench seat at Pukehuhu only (do not continue along Omanawanui track)(Whatipu)|
|Whatipu coastal walk|
|Pohutakawa glade walk (Karekare)|
|Track down stream to beach (Karekare)|
|Tunnel point track (Karekare)|
|Track to beach from carpark (Te Henga)|
Edward Ashby firstname.lastname@example.org