Council staff enforce Waitākere Ranges track closures

Compliance officers are out in force in Auckland's Waitākere Ranges this week, trying to catch anyone going on closed bush tracks.

Dozens of high-risk tracks have been closed in a bid to fight kauri dieback disease and council staff has been monitoring some tracks this weekend to catch those breaking the rules.

"We've been stationed on tracks throughout the Waitakere Ranges and the Hunua Ranges trying to target people who are non-compliant aka walking on tracks when they shouldn't be," says compliance monitoring officer Ana Paskaleff.

Auckland Council has proof people are breaching the rules - accessing tracks that are out of bounds.

"There's some CCTV cameras, there's some drones out patrolling tracks from time to time so we've got a bit of evidence that there are people coming and going but we just haven't caught them in the act," says compliance monitoring officer Max Gander-Cooper.

Park Rangers also see cars at the entrance to closed tracks early in the morning, another sign of people flouting the rules.

"If we do catch you coming off the track you won't get a fine but we will give you a trespass notice or a warning notice," Paskaleff says.

But the Tree Council says enforcement needs to be much harsher and should have started sooner.

"There's been two gaps really in what the council has done - the complete and utter lack of education and no enforcement," says Tree Council secretary Mels Barton.

Auckland Council Environment and Community Committee Chair, Councillor Penny Hulse, is defending the process.

"I've got probably just as many people emailing me furious with me for closed tracks as I have with people saying we haven't closed enough tracks," she told Newshub.

"Our responsibility is to weigh the science work with our communities as much as we can, but then get on and do our job."

No trespass notices were issued on Saturday. But council staff will be back tomorrow making every effort to stop kauri dying.


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