23 Apr 2019

More than 50 people caught using closed Waitākere Ranges tracks

10:31 am on 23 April 2019

Seven people caught using closed tracks in the Waitākere Ranges have been issued with trespass notices and another 50 have been given a warning.

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Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

Thirty Auckland Council officers spent Easter weekend patrolling the regional park as part of a crackdown to prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease.

Dozens of tracks are off limits but for the past year the council has been relying on educating trampers rather than enforcement.

Now it's taking a much tougher stance although critics say it is long overdue and should have started before last summer.

As well as being trespassed people could also be prosecuted under the Local Government Act and Biosecurity Act and hit with fines of up to $100,000.

Steve Pearce, the council's manager for regulatory compliance, said it's pleasing that the majority of people are complying with the rules and said they will catch "those few who chose to break them."

Mr Pearce said some of the tracks that are closed are heavily infected with kauri dieback and spores tracked from them could kill another kauri. Others are pristine and the council wants to keep them that way for future generations.

He said that the majority of the people caught were locals who believed they knew better or that they had increased rights to use the track.

For more information, track closures and maps, visit the Protect Kauri website.

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