Kauri killer disease found on the Coromandel Peninsula

DYING: An example of kauri dieback, the tree bleeding resin.
DYING: An example of kauri dieback, the tree bleeding resin.

Thames-Coromandel District Council is stepping up its fight against kauri dieback after it was detected on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Test results revealed the presence of the fungus-like plant pathogen Phytophtora taxon Agathis (PTA), or kauri dieback disease, in a Department of Conservation block in the Whangapoua Forest, north of Whitianga.

The area is not easily accessible to the public and is used mainly by pig hunters.

Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Glenn Leach said he was "extremely disappointed" because the council had worked hard with many agencies to ensure the disease didn't reach the district.

He said the council had worked with the Kauri 2000 Trust, Department of Conservation and the Waikato Regional Council to stop people bringing the fungus to the Coromandel. It was typically carried on boots worn in infected forests in other parts of New Zealand.

Efforts will now be stepped up to raise awareness of the problem. "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," Mr Leach said.

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

Special boot-cleaning stations had been installed at major entrances to Coromandel forest walks so visitors and walkers can scrub down footwear before tracking any potential dieback microbes into the forest.

A boot-cleaning station had also been installed at Hannaford's Wharf, in the Coromandel Harbour, where the Fullers 360 Ferry berths with passengers from Auckland.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith visited the affected site yesterday and immediately closed the area to reduce the risk of the disease spreading.