We made it to the end. 77 km. Wowed by the Waitaks. The Hillary Trail is the equal of almost any tramp I can think of. The bush, the beaches, and the to-die-for coastal views, including today’s final cliff top walk from Bethells to Muriwai.
We have looked at a lot of kauri trees. Some magnificent. Some beautiful. Too many diseased and dying.
We have seen the future for the northern bush if we don’t get to grips with kauri dieback and it ain’t pretty.
For me the heroes of the last week have been the scientists who have walked with us, explaining their work and what is known and not known.
I share their view that if we don’t get a better understanding of the disease we don’t stand a chance of stopping it.
But I’m a politician. I see political will as the scarce commodity here. Unless this Government commits funding to continue the work of the kauri dieback programme, then the kauri doesn’t stand a chance.
To get them to that point we have to make them understand that while it is not a threat to pine trees nor kiwifruit, phytophthora taxon agathis is killing the kauri and although it might be hard to put a dollar value on that, it is nevertheless something New Zealanders care deeply about.
More to come on this. I will continue to add my voice to those scientists, environmentalists, iwi, and other concerned Kiwis who won’t let this issue go.
In the meantime I want to thank all those who have walked with us, supported, reported, and helped turn a tramp into a campaign: Fred and Marlene Holloway, Ngarimu Blair, Ross Duder, Chris McBride, Viv van der Wal, Lika, Joseph, Jasper, Jack and Jake, Ian Horner, Ellena Hough, Stacey Hill, Nick Waipara, Simon Randall, Bruce Burns, Sarah Wyse, Monique Wheat, Marnie and Alison at Whatipu Lodge, Lindy Harvey, Cheryl Krull, Cr Sandra Coney, Neville Winter and Debi Jacka from Piha Surf Club, Sir Bob Harvey, John Edgar, Kubi Witten-Hannah, Ted Scott, Karekare Surf Club, Stephen Bell and all the western Rangers, Waitangi Woods, Grant Hewison, Tracy Dalton, Alistair Hall, Jim Wheeler, Moana Maniapoto and Toby Mills, Barb Erin and Ian from Muriwai, John Chapman, my assistant Mels Barton who was the first person to tell me about kauri dieback, my son Harry, niece Manu and her friend Sarah who walked with me, and my wife Jo for doing logistics and generally being wonderful.