More tracks to reopen in Waitākere Ranges

By Regan Paranihi

West Auckland iwi, Te Kawerau-ā-Maki, placed a rāhui on the Waitākere Ranges in 2018 following a damning report conducted by the Auckland Council of a kauri dieback outbreak.

Since then the council and the iwi have been working closely to get closed tracks up to standard fin the hope to prevent it from spreading, but it's a disease Auckland Council's Kauri Dieback Management Ranger, Stu Leighton, says continues to linger in the Waitākere Rangers.

"We don't really know all the answers yet, we don't know necessarily the potential impact of it. So some of the early indications are that it can be devastating. Kauri is now been shifted to now being threatened species the potential impact of Kauri dieback. Until the science can give us more surety we're really asking people to be really cautious and we're taking an extremely cautionary approach."

It's a problem the council and local iwi are working towards to save these native trees

"We've worked with mana whenua and we've identified areas of the forest that they're comfortable with having tracks back in that's been done in partnership with them and also our biosecurity team who have looked at areas of highest risk and lowest risk. We've done public consultation on that track plan and now we're busy implementing it."

Kauri dieback grows in the roots of these native trees and this Auckland Council Ranger says in order to combat the problem you need to understand it.

"We don't know what we don't know let's list the usual science argument and assume the worst-case scenario and work backwards from that until we've got greater clarity and that could potentially change some of the ways we manage the place."

With the summer season, fast approaching hikers and trampers need to be vigilant when taking a stroll through these ranges.

"As long as people are sticking to the tracks that are open that, we've upgraded, that they're using the hygiene stations that are in place and they're taking that step to make sure that they come to the forest with clean gear and just follow the rules."

Leighton says reopening tracks is a bittersweet experience.

"Its always a really good time when we do reopen a track cause we know there are lots of people kind of really keen to get back into the forest."

The Council look to reopen seven more walking in the Waitākere Ranges over the summer period.