Auckland man found guilty of flouting kauri dieback rules on closed Waitākere Ranges tracks

An Auckland man has become the first person to be found guilty of flouting kauri dieback rules.

Robert Armitstead appeared in the Waitākere District Court on Tuesday where he was found to have breached Auckland Council's Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw by walking on closed tracks three times in 2019. 

Kauri dieback disease has forced the closure of more than a hundred tracks across the  Waitākere Ranges since 2018.

Armitstead remained defiant as he left court on Tuesday.

"Well I think the people of Auckland won't be happy, locked out of the park for three years and it's going to continue on, so it's very disappointing for the people of Auckland."

He was remanded and will reappear in the Waitākere District Court for sentencing on May 21.

Auckland Councillor Richard Hills, who is also the chairperson of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, welcomed the court's verdict in finding Armitstead guilty.

"This is the last thing we want to do, take legal action; we would prefer hikers and walkers respect the rules and stay on the open tracks. But if they fail to, we will use every tool possible to protect our native taonga, we only get one chance."

Auckland Council says it will continue to issue trespass notices if hikers defy the rules.