26 Jan 2018

Kauri dieback: MPI to consider compulsory protections

5:34 pm on 26 January 2018

The government has toughened its stance on kauri dieback, announcing moves that would force people going into affected areas to comply with any restrictions.

Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges

Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Councils can ask visitors to take measures like disinfecting their boots or staying away from tracks, but cannot make it compulsory.

The Ministry for Primary industries said it would work to put formal controls in place.

It would also start a National Pest Management strategy, giving kauri dieback the sort of biosecurity status previously awarded to the kiwifruit disease PSA or bovine tuberculosis.

The ministry has previously been criticised by scientists and conservation groups for a lack of action on the disease.

There is no cure for it, and it now affects about 20 percent of the kauri in the Waitākere ranges of Auckland's west coast, having doubled its spread in just five years.

Auckland Council voted not to close the ranges to the public in December, saying there simply was no legal way to do so.

Te Kawerau ā Maki then placed a rāhui on the ranges, but hundreds of people have continued to visit.

Scientists have warned the fungus-like disease could push the trees towards extinction.

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