Officials recommend keeping Waitakeres open

3:33 pm on 1 December 2017

Officials have recommended keeping Auckland's Waitakere Ranges open to the public despite calls to close them to save kauri trees from dieback.

dying Kauri trees

dying Kauri trees Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

Auckland Council's environment committee will vote next Tuesday whether to close the 16,000 hectare regional park to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback, which is threatening to wipe out the trees there.

In a meeting agenda released today, council officials laid out five options the committee could consider - from doing nothing to total closure.

The option they recommended councillors vote for was one of targeted closures of a few high-risk areas, rather than closing the whole park.

Their report said full closure could add a further $400,000 to the $637,000 budget for this financial year and would be difficult to enforce.

It would mean sports events, educational groups, filming projects and pest control programmes could not go ahead, the report said.

The tangata whenua, Te Kawerau-a-Maki, will place a rahui - a cultural probihition - on entering the ranges tomorrow but acknowledged it would be hard to get the message across.

The iwi would be erecting signs but not trying to physically stop people from entering.

It urged the council to follow suit.

An August council report into kauri dieback suggested the council seriously consider total closure because people were spreading the disease at an alarming rate.

Almost one in five trees is infected, double the rate of five years ago.

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