10 Jan 2018

No legal way to close Waitākere Ranges - councillor

1:01 pm on 10 January 2018

An Auckland City Councillor says it's sad people aren't adhering to a rāhui to stay away from Auckland's Waitākere Ranges - but she doesn't think a closure would be more effective.

A sign for the rāhui seen heading towards Piha.

A sign for the rāhui seen heading towards Piha. Photo: Nita Blake-Persen/RNZ

Te Kawerau ā Maki put the rāhui in place last month in a bid to stop people from walking in the ranges to stop the spread of kauri dieback - but hundreds of people are continuing to visit.

The council last month voted not to close the ranges to the public, choosing instead to close some tracks and install more cleaning stations on others.

The Auckland Council environment committee chair Penny Hulse told Summer Report that people are not honouring the rahui and she isn't sure a closure would have more effect - as it was hard to legally ban people from the area.

"That was part of the reason for us making the decision that we did, which was not universally popular but we knew that people would still come which is why we had to keep our cleaning stations open and our ambassadors in place to make sure we manage the people that would still visit."

Ms Hulse said the council was working with central government to find the best and most effective way to stop people visiting.

"I know that people wanted us to just close the Waitākere Ranges ... but the difficulty is there isn't a legal way to do that."

She said even working with the government on a controlled area notice, doesn't allow them to ban people on from entering the ranges.

Ms Hulse said the big thing the council are focusing on, is getting ambassadors out front and making sure people know that there are alternatives.

She said the council will be meeting again in February and will have information on the track monitoring.

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