More than a dozen additional tracks in the Waitākere Ranges Regional Park are closing immediately in a bid to protect kauri trees from a deadly infection.

Auckland City councillors voted today to support Te Kawerau a Maki's rahui across the 16,000ha ranges park. The rahui was formally announced with a ceremony on Saturday.

Thirteen tracks were marked for immediate, temporary closure, to go with two tracks that were already closed. Nine tracks that were temporarily closed will now be permanently closed.

A lengthy debate that resulted in the decision to expand track closures noted the high importance of the protection of the Waitakere Ranges - the most heavily diseased area in New Zealand - and to work with Te Kawerau a Maki on ongoing protection.


A monitoring report showed the infection had jumped from 8 per cent to 19 per cent in five years, concentrated around where people walked.

The 24 tracks now closed were considered to be high-and medium-risk tracks.

Mayor Phil Goff and a majority of councillors did not support a full closure of the Ranges, with the mayor saying it would lead to perverse outcomes. Instead, the council was looking at a range of options, including closing some tracks and rebuilding others with boardwalks.

"The option that we have chosen today closes high-risk areas within the park, puts our current resources into the maintenance of tracks and is a practical approach that will really make a difference on the ground."

A monitoring report showed the infection had jumped from 8 per cent to 19 per cent in five years, concentrated around where people walked.

Goff said the kauri tree was a symbol of New Zealand's native forest and the council needed to do everything to ensure it survives.

Aucklanders would have the opportunity next year to consider what funding from the 10-year Budget they wanted to allocate to environmental protection, including the management of kauri dieback.

There had been concerns the closures could put a stop to events like the annual Hillary Trail Marathon, which was scheduled to take place in February.


While organiser Shaun Collins said the newly-announced restrictions didn't affect the course, whether the race would go ahead was yet to be determined.

"At present, there are two competing things happening," he said.

"It's likely that Council would grant us a consent, but the Iwi has a rahui over the whole of the ranges.

Collins said it was "awesome" to hear the area might receive a funding injection to upgrade the tracks and protection measures like the foot wash stations.

Iwi executive manager Edward Ashby acknowledged there was no statutory power to enforce the rahui, but hoped people would respect it.

"The tikanga back in the old days was that when mana whenua declared a rahui, they were essentially laying down a kind of tapu, and you'd be hard-pressed to find people who would enter those areas. Of course, times change, but we didn't have many options up our sleeves."

Iwi members had set up signs around the park and Ashby said there had been anecdotal reports of just half the typical number of people seen on the tracks since Saturday.

But there were no plans to confront visitors in the park and the iwi would be taking a "softly, softly" approach.

Waitakere Ranges Protection Society spokesman John Edgar believed the spread would only worsen if the entire park wasn't closed.

"It's a big thing to say we're going to close the ranges, but we have to do something drastic now," he said.