The Auckland Council are "wimps" for not acting more quickly to save Waitakere Ranges' endangered kauri trees, says National MP Judith Collins.

She and other senior Labour and National MPs would like access to the ranges restricted to help save the trees, which are being threatened by kauri dieback, an incurable fungal-like disease spread by people and animals.

Kauri dieback had doubled in the Waitakere Ranges in the past five years, and is now threatening the kauri to the point of extinction, according to scientist and Unitec Associate Professor Dr Peter de Lange.

De Lange chairs the New Zealand panel on what species should be on the IUCN red list, the international list of plants facing extinction.


"Because of the rate of decline that's been mapped and because we have good data, that kauri is now being listed as a threatened species," he told Radio NZ's Morning Report.

"And I think that's just terrible. This is an iconic tree; a sacred tree protected under the Treaty of Waitangi. Various iwi regard it as their totem tree, and we are potentially going to lose it."

The native trees are sacred to Maori and can live for 2000 years.

De Lange said the main reason for the spread of dieback was people that refused to clean their shoes, stay on the tracks, and stay off the closed ones.

Tangata whenua Te Kawerau-a-Maki wants a rāhui in place by Christmas to restrict access, which the Auckland Council will vote on next week.

Collins, MP for Papakura, told Newshub's AM Show that she supported a rahui, and criticised council environment committee chairwoman and Waitakere Ward representative Penny Hulse for being "a bit weak on this", calling the council "wimps".

"Council should stop being so mealy-mouthed and just say, 'do you want these Ranges or not?' Is it going to kill anybody not to go in there while this is getting sorted?"

But Labour MP for Te Atatu Phil Twyford defended Hulse, saying legal issues needed to be worked through - but he also supported a rahui.

"The kauri is under threat. We need to save the kauri for future generations. If we have to lock up the Waitakere Ranges for a while to do that, we should do that."

The council has said that imposing and monitoring a rahui would be complex, given how large and sprawling the Waitakere Ranges are.