Concern over Kauri dieback disease in Coromandel

Kauri dieback disease has been detected in the Coromandel Peninsula, a part of the country previously thought to be free of the tree-killing disease.

A visitor to Trounson Kauri Park cleans their shoes to prevent spread of Kauri dieback disease. Credit Flickr: Eli Duke

The announcement came this week after tests confirmed the presence of the disease in two trees in Whangapoua Forest north of Whitianga. A 319-hectare section of the forest has been closed as precaution while further testing is undertaken.

“This is a serious blow to our efforts to conserve kauri and protect it from this disease. I am taking a precautionary approach by immediately closing the affected area to reduce the risk of spread. It will also enable time to determine the extent of the disease and our on-going management of kauri dieback in the wake of this negative news,” Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith said in a media release.

Kauri dieback is disease caused by a fungus-like microorganism called Phytophtora taxon Agathis (PTA) which infects kauri trees’ roots and damages the tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree, effectively starving the tree to death. Nearly all infected trees die and there is no known cure.

The disease was first formally identified in 2008 and infected trees has been found in Northland, the Waitakere Ranges and on Great Barrier Island, where warning signs and equipment cleaning stations have been put in place.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy urged asked the public to do its part to avoid spread of the disease. “This means adopting biosecurity measures of cleaning and disinfecting footwear, vehicle tyres and machinery when moving to or from any kauri forests,” he said.

“We also urge walkers to keep to formed tracks. We need to take a precautionary approach of assuming every kauri stand may be infected,”

You can find out more about Kauri dieback disease, and how to prevent its spread, on the Keep Kauri Standing website.

The announcement and response have been covered in national media. Examples include:

Waikato Times: Kauri killer disease found
Newstalk ZB: Kauri die-back disease found in Whangapoua Forest
TVNZ News: Kauri dieback disease found on Coromandel Peninsula
3 News: Kauri dieback spreads to Coromandel
New Zealand Herald: Kauri dieback disease spreads to Coromandel
Radio New Zealand News: Kauri-killing disease spreads
Radio New Zealand News:Hapu unhappy about kauri consultation
3 News: Govt urged to take kauri dieback seriously
Radio New Zealand News:More money ‘must’ for kauri research