National | Kauri

Kauri dieback disease could mean closure of Waitākere Ranges

The Auckland Council and Local iwi are considering closing the Waitākere Ranges to the public following a report which shows the number of native Kauri affected by the Kauri dieback disease which has more than doubled in five years.

Waitakere Ranges, one of Aucklands popular trekking spots, is now the country's most Kauri dieback affected area.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Primary Insdustries (MPI), Erik von Eyndhoven says, "We need to really knuckle down and make sure that people are doing their bit so when are moving wanting to visit these places they make sure their gear is clean before they arrive, when their in these places we want them to stay on the tracks stay on the infrastructure that's provided for them and we absolutely want them to clean their gear when they leave."

CEO of Forest and Bird Kevin Hague is pointing the finger at the Ministry of Primary Industries.

He says, "Money's gone into the Ministry of Primary Industries, $26.5 million dollars and I can't really see what's come out of that."

Erik von Eyndhoven says, "We find these accusations kind of bizzare all it takes is for someome to spend five minutes on our the website have a look at our annual reports have a look at our strategy and they'll see that MPI doesn't get $26.5 million dollars 80% of that goes to the Department of Conservation to manage their facilities and infrastructure.

The report maitains that one in five trees in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park are infected with Kauri dieback.

Kevin Hague says, "When I look at something like mertle rust, something that threatens commercial products, well actually I'm seeing an urgent and dramatic response to that where's the urgent and dramatic response to the threat to our Kauri."

The report also recommended upgrading the disinfected stations on popular walking tracks and assessing the role of wild pigs in the spread of the disease. MPI say their needs to be more public awareness.

According to Erik von Eyndhoven, "We have to acknowledge that the disease is really challenging to manage this a really really tough ask but it is dissapointing that people aren't using those hygiene facilities that we are providing for them the compliance is just to low and we know that people are a really high spread factor for this disease."

Kevin Hague maintains, "We're good in NZ at taking biosecurity precautions where they relate to those commercial interests of farming, aquaculutre and forestry, we're hopeless at dealing with he biosecurity threats to our native wildlife."

Its hoped the proposed closure will give time for anti-fungal measures to slow the growth of Kauri dieback and allow the forest to heal itself.