Tracks closed in Kowhai Park

Auckland Council has temporarily closed tracks in Warkworth’s Kowhai Park to combat the spread of kauri dieback.

A Council spokesperson said the closures were a “proactive and precautionary” approach to allow Council to step up its efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease.

She said while there were no signs of kauri dieback in Kowhai Park, the park has several stands of mature and regenerating kauri.

“A partial closure has been introduced to create a diversion around a large kauri and to protect a large number of healthy kauri while mitigation plans are completed,” she said.     

The timing of the closures coincides with winter when the tracks are at their muddiest, which increases the potential of soils being transported.

Mitigation works will focus on keeping people away from sensitive kauri roots and providing a range of surfaces for people to walk on that will reduce the risk of transporting soil both within and to other parks.

Works are likely include a mix of boardwalks, viewing platforms and cleaning stations.

The proposed works will be presented to the Rodney Local Board for consideration on September 19.

The track closures have drawn flak from Warkworth Forest & Bird branch member Roger Williams, who says Forest & Bird and Lions Warkworth spent three years upgrading the tracks to protect kauri from dieback and this work appears to have been ignored. He considers closing the tracks to be an overreaction.

But Council biosecurity manager for kauri dieback Lisa Tolich disagrees. She says the closures are not a reflection on the work Forest & Bird and the Lions have carried out over past years, nor their passion for the park. 

“We need to ensure that any existing adverse effects on a kauri tree arising from the presence of the track are not increased, and where practicable, any adverse effects are reduced by the implementation of appropriate mitigations,” she said.

The mitigation works are expected to take place this summer.

Back in May, Auckland Council advised that it would be temporarily closing some tracks in local parks across several local board areas in Auckland in a bid to halt the spread of kauri dieback.