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Sixth kauri dieback site found on Coromandel Peninsula

A disease that kills mighty kauri trees has been found in forest on a private property at Tairua, on the Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato Regional Council has confirmed.

The site was identified for further testing after an aerial survey carried out by the council last year showed kauri with signs of poor health.

It takes the number of Waikato locations confirmed to have kauri dieback to six. It had already been confirmed at five locations in Hukarahi, near Whitianga, and in the Whangapoua Forest.

Patrick Whaley, integrated catchment services manager, said regional council staff were working with the landowner to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Unfortunately, there’s no known cure for kauri dieback. But we can stop it from infecting other kauri by limiting soil movement. That means fencing kauri from stock, keeping people out of the bush, killing feral animals, and having good machinery cleaning practices,” Mr Whaley said.

Kauri dieback disease starves the tree to death. Its symptoms include a yellowing and thinning canopy – but these can be caused by other things too, such as drought, poor soil conditions, high winds, cattle and other animal movement under the tree.

Mr Whaley said thousands of photos were taken of the Waikato region during last year’s aerial survey, carried out by the council as part of the national Kauri Dieback Programme. Through that survey, other kauri in the Waikato have been identified as showing symptoms of the disease.

From this work, the council and the Department of Conservation have been working to complete groundtruthing on public conservation land and private land.

The council’s groundtruthing work on private properties over north Waikato, Hauraki and Coromandel has involved visiting the sites and gathering samples for testing. Of the properties tested as a part of this work all but the one at Tairua have returned undetected.

“We’re working closely with Kauri Dieback Programme partners, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries to develop an action plan for this new infection area in Tairua,” Mr Whaley said.

As an initial response, the Department of Conservation has closed nearby tracks on Public Conservation Land at Lynch Stream and Twin Kauri Tracks.

The Kauri Dieback Programme was launched in 2009 to manage and respond to the spread of the disease. It is a partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries, tangata whenua, Department of Conservation, Auckland Council, and Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils.

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