Hillary Trail Marathon Cancelled to Protect Kauri

18 December 2017   |   Press Release

The Tree Council, Waitakere Ranges Protection Society, Forest & Bird and the Friends of Regional Parks sincerely thank Shaun Collins and Lactic Turkey for cancelling the planned Hillary Trail Marathon through the Waitakere Ranges out of respect for the rāhui and to protect kauri.

Shaun announced the race cancellation on THE HILLARY Facebook Page by saying “This decision has not been taken lightly and has issues for many, but the ethos of our company and in fact one of the aims of the Hillary Trail Run Charitable Trust, is promoting the care and stewardship of the Waitakere Ranges. We feel we need to respect the iwi’s request and support the rāhui until such a time that Council invests money into boosting the existing programme of education, hygiene station upgrades, track improvements and appropriate and scientific surveillance. We sincerely hope that this happens and the trails will start to be opened with the iwi’s blessing and we can enjoy the trails again knowing we’re not spreading this disease.” and “If we went against the rāhui we would be adding to the confusion that exists at present 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.”

“The Council has clearly signalled they are not going to implement the necessary park closure to protect kauri” says The Tree Council’s Secretary Mels Barton. “It is so heartening to see the leadership we need coming from within the community itself. Shaun is setting the
standard to which we all can aspire”. “Shaun Collins has shown tremendous leadership and respect for the rāhui and is setting a shining example for others. Lactic Turkey are leading the way towards better stewardship of our forests” said John Edgar, President of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.” “We celebrate and thank all those individuals and groups changing their plans and cancelling their trips to support the rāhui”.

“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 conservation groups continue to support the rāhui laid by Te Kawerau a Maki on Saturday 2 December to close the entire forest and all tracks to protect kauri and prevent spread of kauri dieback disease. They have just released a Science FAQ to educate the public about the disease (which you can read and download here).

“We commend Shaun’s decision. It is an enormous statement of the importance of the rāhui and it will further encourage the public to respect it” said Friends of Regional Parks Chair Bronwen Turner. “We are seeing a huge degree of voluntary compliance and are getting significant amounts of positive feedback already. We thank Aucklanders for their cooperation and understanding of the crisis for kauri we all face and the need for immediate action.”

The Manager of the Whatipu Lodge and Campground Wayne Mackenzie has cancelled bookings and told his clients that the Hillary Trail is closed by the rāhui. He stands to lose $12-$15,000 pa but says “I have all respect for Te Kawerau a Maki as mana whenua and kaitiaki for their great forest of Tiriwa. We all need to support the rāhui and educate others.”

“Anyone wanting to work in the forest can apply for a warrant to do so from Te Kawerau a Maki” says Forest & Bird Waitakere Chair Annalily van den Broeke. “This system is already working well to ensure warranted workers are complying with all the precautions needed to protect kauri and continue with our important work to control pests.”