A popular junior running race at a public park has been cancelled after local iwi raised concerns about events on "sensitive land".

The annual cross country event has been held at One Tree Hill Domain in past years, but on Thursday runners were told that today's scheduled racing was off.

Disappointed clubs have told their members to put their running shoes away for the weekend after the Auckland Council decision.

However, iwi were unaware of the declined event application and the host club, Auckland City Athletics, is hopeful an acceptable route can be found later this year.

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The pairs relay race is normally held in the area between Sorrento in the Park restaurant and the Stardome Observatory, with park staff moving away sheep beforehand.

A spokesman for Auckland Council said in the past year a collective of local iwi had made their concerns clear about "the effects of running events on such sensitive land".

The Tamaki Collective were not aware of the application for today's race, but "those concerns were taken into consideration when the application came in".

The council's manager of volcanic cones declined the event's application because of the route and the amount of off-track activity involved, the spokesman said.

"The rejection was because 200 participants running around the maunga [off-track] would impact on the fabric of the maunga.

"These areas are of high sensitivity and are to be protected. If the event was proposed to be undertaken on formed tracks or roads, there would have been little hesitation to approve it."

The council was taking a consistent approach on the issue, its spokesman said, and three such running or orienteering events had been affected in the past three months.

Maungakiekie, or One Tree Hill, was a large and important Maori pa in pre-European times.

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Yesterday Ngati Whatua o Orakei spokesman Ngarimu Blair said the iwi was unaware of the event application and had made no objection.

"Ngati Whatua allows such community events if they keep to formed roads and paths and avoid archaeological sites and are otherwise generally of a low impact.

"We have approved such events on the lower slopes of the mountain near the Stardome, which do not have archaeological sites so we see no problem in an event like that continuing."

ACA member Paul Craddock said the club was hopeful the event could be run later this year with any necessary amendments made to the route.

The pairs race had been held at various locations for about 20 years, including One Tree Hill and Cornwall Park.

"It's aimed at the junior athletes [aged from 7 to 16]. It's a relay race - a teams event. It is quite novel."