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Update on Okura Walkway - Haigh Access Rd entrance

26 Oct 2022 11:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

This is a walkway that we are all interested in and many questions have been asked regarding when it will open. Here is the current update from Alexis Poppelbaum, Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member:

Okura Bush Walkway update from DoC 

I get so many people asking me about what is happening with the Okura Bush Walkway and when it will open again. Unfortunately DoC have previously been very slow to get back to me (or not at all) and the information hasn't been useful. I reached out yet again recently and begged them to provide an update for all of us wanting to know what is going on, and here it is:

"As you know, kauri dieback has been found in Okura Bush. Phytophthora agathidicida (PA) is a soil-borne pathogen which infects kauri trees, causing the condition known as kauri dieback. PA can be spread through just a single speck of soil or dirt, and for this reason we need to be vigilant in reducing the potential for the pathogen to spread, which is why the track remains closed at this time.

Since Okura Bush Walkway was closed in 2018, the Department has undertaken substantial upgrades to the track, both mitigation works for kauri dieback as well as works to remedy two slips on the track. An inspection of the track undertaken in 2021 highlighted a number of issues which have led to the Department, in conjunction with mana whenua, to explore further mitigation of the walkway: small sections of the track were still not mud-free, and differences between DOC’s track mitigation standards for kauri dieback and the standards Auckland Council is meeting in its recent kauri dieback works in the Waitakere Ranges.

In December 2021, the Department entered into a track management agreement for Okura Bush Walkway with mana whenua. The purpose of the agreement is to outline how the Department and mana whenua (in this case comprising Te Kawerau ā Maki, Ngāti Manuhiri and Ngāti Rehua Ngātiwai ki Aōtea) will work together to enable public access within the rāhui area laid over the Okura Bush Scenic Reserve in a way that reduces the risk of kauri dieback disease and supports broader forest health. The outcome of implementing the plan will result in public enjoyment of the reserve in a way that respects tikanga, meeting the aspirations of both the Department and mana whenua.

The Department and mana whenua are working with a specialist engineering company on the design of further mitigation works. We are also currently exploring options to fund these works. Unfortunately I cannot give a firm timeline of when these works will be completed.

We recognise the frustration of many members of the public that Okura Bush Walkway has now been closed for more than four years, and will remain closed for the 2022/2023 summer season. The Department asks for continued patience from the public while we work towards the track’s reopening.

You may also be interested to note that a National Pest Management Plan for kauri came into effect in August 2022, approved under the Biosecurity Act 1993. It sets out several measures and requirements to protect kauri from PA and to support broader kauri health. You can find more information on the National Pest Management Plan at National Plan | Tiakina Kauri (kauriprotection.co.nz)."

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