Council apologises over post suggesting Aucklanders ignore Waitakere Ranges rāhui

By Alice Peacock

Kauri on Clark Bush Track in the Waitakere Ranges. Photo / Michael Craig
Kauri on Clark Bush Track in the Waitakere Ranges. Photo / Michael Craig

Auckland Council is extending an olive branch after a blunder encouraging people to ignore an iwi-imposed rāhui and head to the Waitakere Ranges on Waitangi Day.

A post from ATEED, which is an arm of the council, on Monday suggested a good way for Aucklanders to spend their Tuesday off work was to head to the Kitekite Track, in the Waitakeres.

"Who's up for a Waitangi Day Trip?" the original Facebook post read.

"The Kitekite track is an easy, level, metalled track from the car park at the end of Glen Esk Road and follows the Glen Esk stream to the base of the stunning Kitekite Falls.

"Pack a picnic and your togs to swim in the pools or hike to the top for beautiful views of the Waitakere Ranges."

The post did not mention that the council had committed to working with Te Kawerau a Maki Iwi on ongoing protection, nor that the mentioned track was protected under the rāhui.

The rāhui, or exclusion zone, was announced by West Auckland iwi Te Kawerau a Maki across the 16,000ha ranges park in a bid to curb the spread of kauri dieback disease.

ATEED's original post promoted the Kitekite track in the Waitakeres as a great way to spend Waitangi Day. Photo / Twitter
ATEED's original post promoted the Kitekite track in the Waitakeres as a great way to spend Waitangi Day. Photo / Twitter

At the end of last year Mayor Phil Goff and a majority of councillors did not support a full closure of the Ranges, but voted to support it in principle.

Since the original post went up Council had backtracked on its contradictory promotion of the Kitekite track and deleted the post.

An apology statement had been issued, apologising "unreservedly" for the message.

The council-controlled organisation claimed the post was pre-scheduled and a mistake.

An apology statement issued by the organisation on Waitangi Day said the post was pre-scheduled and posted in error. Photo / Facebook
An apology statement issued by the organisation on Waitangi Day said the post was pre-scheduled and posted in error. Photo / Facebook

"Please be assured we are abundantly aware of the devastation kauri dieback disease is having on the park and we absolutely respect the significance of the rāhui and the measures Auckland Council is taking to stop the spread of this incurable disease," the apology said.

The botch-up comes as the latest folly in what has been labelled "mixed messaging" from the council around the rāhui.

Tree Council secretary Dr Mels Barton said it showed Council wanted to "have its cake and eat it too".

"They want to make it look like they're respecting the rāhui while not actually doing anything about it," Barton said.

Barton said Council was undermining the work of the iwi, local mana whenua and the general public with a barrage of conflicting communication.

"They're not respecting the rāhui and they're not telling the people to respect the rāhui either. They're telling the people that some tracks are open, instead."

Late last month, results from an on-site survey revealed thousands of people were snubbing the rāhui - even after being approached in the park and informed of it.

Of more than 1100 people approached by one council-employed kauri dieback ambassador in the week before Christmas, only a dozen chose to turn back because of the rāhui.

This was in spite of concerns that kauri could be wiped out within decades if drastic action was not taken.

- NZ Herald

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