The $57 million idea to stop walkers ignoring the kauri dieback rāhui

A $57 million proposal to build tracks in areas outside kauri forests could be key to ensuring the tree's survival.
A $57 million proposal to build tracks in areas outside kauri forests could be key to ensuring the tree's survival. Photo credit: Newshub.

A $57 million proposal to build tracks in areas outside kauri forests could be key to ensuring the tree's survival.

The Walking Access Commission (WAC) is promoting the idea as a way to deter people from breaking closures, or rāhui, placed on areas infested with dieback disease.

Documents suggest neither the Department of Conservation (DoC) or Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have the necessary funding to support such a plan.

WAC is now aiming to entice other stakeholders on board and sell the project as a "great employment opportunity".

Tree Council secretary Mels Barton says the move is vital to stem the spread of dieback disease.

"Obviously there is a huge need to have a strategy of alternatives for people to use if you're going to close forests," she says.

"We've got 27 regional parks [in Auckland] - two of them are kauri forests, and we don't want people in there. There are many other parks we could send people."

Auckland Council has voted to close the Waitakere Ranges and parts of the Hunua Ranges to the public amidst the burgeoning threat of kauri dieback disease. It's set to come into effect by May 1.

The move followed Auckland iwi Te Kawerau a Maki placing a rāhui on 16,000 hectares of bush last year.

Chief executive Edward Ashby says Aucklanders and tourists are still ignoring the ban.

"It can feel like banging one's head against the wall sometimes," he says.

"No one likes being told what to do… but closure, research, alternative access are critical pillars for keeping our forests ultimately safe. Kauri dieback is currently our country's main public access issue."

There is little detail about where and when these alternative tracks could be built. WAC refused to comment on the matter when approached by Newshub.

Ms Barton hopes it's not just a money grabbing endeavour.

"I would be very concerned if this was an ad hoc proposal to grab some money to give [WAC] something to do," she says.

"It needs to be part of a large strategy about what you do with people."

Newshub.

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