In an effort to combat the devastating spread of kauri dieback, Auckland Council has voted through the plan to close the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park, with some exceptions outside the forested area.
The move comes after a rāhui (or ban) was placed on areas of the popular walking and hiking region by local iwi Te Kawerau-a-Maki with little results. The iwi reports that the rate of disease has more than doubled over the past few years with at least 19% of all kauri in the forest showing signs of infection.
Auckland Council will close all tracks to the public except those outside the kauri ecosystem, where dirt can't be tracked. This will include a large majority of the Waitākere Ranges and high risk tracks in the Hunua Ranges to prevent the introduction of the disease to the park. The closure will come into effect from 1 May, 2018. West Coast beaches and pasturelands will remain open.
Mayor Phil Goff said in February that the current approach to avoid the potential extinction of an iconic species is "not working," and the decision to close the forest sends a much stronger message that "leaves no room for confusion."