Mana whenua wants urgency on council's closures of high-risk tracks

By Jessica Tyson

Mana whenua are urging the Auckland Council to move quickly on their proposal to close high-risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges, following yesterday's announcement.

Councillors voted unanimously yesterday for the closure of all forested areas within the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park, and high-risk tracks in kauri lands of the Hunua Ranges to increase protection against kauri dieback.

Chairman of the Independent Māori Statutory Board, David Taipari says the council needs to consult with mana whēnua on the Hunua closures as soon as possible.

“Acting now to save the kauri in this region is one of the most important issues that this council will have to face,” he says.

“If we are to be successful in halting the spread of this disease, the council must also actively communicate and engage with the wider community and to build widespread public awareness of the problem and support for today’s decisions.  Everyone who lives and visits in this region needs to be a part of the solution.  Without active communication campaigns, today’s decisions will be less effective.”

Taipari says he was pleased to be able to support the views of mana whenua by voting in favor of the closures.

“[Yesterday’s] resolutions are an example of how council can work in partnership with mana whenua on a significant issue to reach decisions that benefit everyone in this region," he says.

“Without the aspirations and determination of Te Kawerau ā Maki bringing this matter to the wider public attention, council would have taken even longer to reach this decision to protect Kauri in the region than they have.”

Consultations will now take place on the matter and the council is meeting again in April with implementation likely in May.