A ritual prohibiting entry to Waipoua forest has been observed for the past three weeks. It is now confirmed that the kauri dieback disease has been found in close proximity to the forests’ senior resident, Tāne Mahuta. The gates are locked with barriers blocking the well trodden walkways to the kauri in Waipoua forest. Lindsay-John Clark, Tutei, says:
"We had a couple of tourists trying to jump our security fence. Luckily we have security and our ambassadors who turn into more of a compliance role to help educate those sorts of people."
Tourist director Heeni Matthews says:
"We’re definitely hand in hand with our whanau here in Aotearoa. Having to go against this mate kainga or COVID-19. Then we also have our rākau rangatira that are going through the same thing, our kauri dieback disease. Hence the reason why kauri protection has come out for Te Roroa.
"There seems to be a natural barrier at the 60 metre mark, that's been created by Papatuanuku .... it's still sitting at that 60 metre mark away from Tāne Mahuta."
It's been seven years since Te Roroa introduced ambassadors in Waipoua. Their role is to provide insights to the tens of thousands of visitors that come here annually. Their work is now critical with the forest already under major stress due to Northlands’ prevailing drought conditions. Te Roroa are therefore reluctant to proceed with the treatment of kauri dieback.
Ambassador Conrad Marsh describes his experience at protecting the ngahere.
"I have had any bad run-ins, I had people on Harley Davidsons come in. They just wanted to have a look and thought they’d be ok to come in and have a look by themselves. I think the person thought it was just a one-off thing so they came the very next day with a mate and realised, 'Oh, these guys do the job everyday'. So, yeah nah, they haven’t been back."
The physical representation of the creation of the Maori world. All stops are out to care for Tāne Mahuta.