A major running race through the Waitakere Ranges has been canned to support a rāhui and protect kauri as a disease threatens to wipe out the native giant.
Organisers of the Hillary Trail Marathon have cancelled February's race saying they need to respect the local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki's request to support the rāhui placed this month on the forest park until there is significant investment and progress in halting kauri dieback.
Race organiser Shaun Collins said the decision had not been taken lightly and posed issues for many but one of the aims of the trail run's charitable trust was to promote the care and stewardship of the ranges.
"If we went against the rāhui we would be adding to the confusion that exists in that iwi, environmentalists, scientists are saying we should stay out until recommended track and footwash upgrades are complete but the Auckland Council have left some tracks open for public to use. Our cancellation of the event is driven by the ideal that all of us should abide by the rāhui," he said in a Facebook post.
"We feel we need to respect the iwi's request and support the rāhui until council invests money into boosting the existing programme of education, hygiene station upgrades, track improvements and appropriate and scientific surveillance."
Collins said they hoped this would happen and the park would start to be opened with the iwi's blessing so everyone could enjoy the trails knowing the disease was not being spread.
At present 42 tracks in the Waitakere Ranges are closed to help prevent the spread of the disease but Auckland Council has resisted calls by environmentalists and local iwi to make the entire park off limits. It says it supports the principles of the rāhui and recommends people enjoy the outdoors at other regional parks.
The latest announcement to abandon the popular trail race has been praised by the Tree Council, Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, Forest and Bird and the Friends of Regional Parks.
The Tree Council said although the Auckland Council had signalled it was not going to close the park to protect kauri it was heartening to see leadership coming from within the community.
"Shaun Collins has shown tremendous leadership and respect for the rāhui and is setting a shining example for others," said Waitakere Ranges Protection Society president John Edgar.
"Shaun's selfless action and education of others will go a long way towards encouraging respect for the rāhui among recreation user groups" said Forest and Bird's spokesperson Nick Beveridge.
The trail run is the latest commercial casualty of kauri dieback.
Whatipu Lodge and Campground has also closed its doors in support of the rahui.
Manager Wayne Mackenzie said he has cancelled bookings and stands to lose up to $15,000 but told his clients everyone needed to support the rāhui and educate others.
The race, which started in 2014, takes place every February. Runner have three course options ranging from an 80km from Arataki, a 34km from Piha or 16km from Bethells. All finish at Muriwai.
Collins said he was gutted and had put "heaps" into getting the event going, but he had spoken to iwi representatives and understood their position.