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Kauri dieback found on the Coromandel

25 March 2014

Thames-Coromandel District Council is disappointed that despite everyone's best efforts kauri dieback has now been found on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Test results revealed the presence of Phytophtora taxon Agathis (PTA) or kauri dieback disease in a Department of Conservation block in the Whangapoua Forest, north of Whitianga (see attached map). The area is not easily accessible to the public and is used predominantly by pig hunters.

"We're extremely disappointed that this has happened as we've been working vigorously with many agencies over the years to ensure this fungal disease didn't reach our district," says Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Glenn Leach.

In the past few years  our Council has been working vigorously with the kauri 2000 Trust, Department of Conservation and the Waikato Regional Council to stop people bringing the fungus to the Coromandel (usually on their boots after walking in infected forests in other parts of New Zealand).

"Working with these agencies we'll now be ramping up further education and awareness programmes on how to prevent the spread of kauri dieback," says Mayor Leach. "We also want to reassure anyone visiting our district that they can still come and enjoy our walking tracks and our natural environment. Where the disease has been detected is on a Department of Conservation block that has very limited public access," says the Mayor.

Kauri dieback hasn't been reported or detected in any other areas of the Coromandel.

Special boot cleaning stations have been installed at major entrances to Coromandel forest walks so visitors and walkers could scrub down their boots before tracking any potential dieback microbes or fungus into our forests. A boot cleaning station had also been installed at Hannaford's Wharf, in the Coromandel Harbour, where the Fullers 360 Ferry berths with passengers coming from Auckland.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith visited the affected site today and as a precautionary measure has immediately closed the affected area to reduce the spread of risk. Notice to close the 319ha Whangapoua Forest/Hukarahi Conservation Area was signed under Section 13 (1)(c) of the Conservation Act 1987. It takes effect immediately and was done in consultation with local iwi Ngati Hei, the Mercury Bay Community Board, both our Council and the Regional Council. 

Dr Smith says the closure will be reviewed in six weeks, once DoC and MPI staff have done further testing.

Meanwhile Dr Smith says his department will be investing more into the Keep kauri standing programme led by Ministry of Primary Industries and DoC. This will include extra funding for

1 - Disinfecting/cleaning stations

2 - Public awareness campaigns

3- Research

4 - Community engagement programmes.

To find out more about kauri dieback go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/kauridieback or www.kauridieback.co.nz