The fight to keep kauri dieback out of Warkworth's Parry Kauri Park

There's concern an influx of tourists may cause kauri dieback spread to the largest trees on New Zealand's East Coast.

Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth north of Auckland is currently free of the microscopic tree pathogen, which mainly travels in the dirt on people’s shoes.

Ray Jensen, who is President of Kauri Native Bushmen's Association, believes the 1.8km of boardwalk they installed in Parry Kauri Park, as well as new cleaning stations, have prevented the area from being infected.

Despite these measures, Mr Jensen says they're "very concerned" the disease could enter the park.

"The buses come here to bring people who want to see a kauri tree, because the other reserves in the area are being closed off due to kauri dieback."

Ray Jansen speaks with John-Michael Swannix.
Ray Jansen speaks with John-Michael Swannix. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Auckland Council has closed tracks in the Waitākere Ranges where one-in-five kauri are infected.

Warkworth-based MP Jenny Marcroft, New Zealand First's conservation spokesperson, says the response to kauri dieback has been lacking over the past decade.

"I don't think there has been a coordinated enough approach to this issue and the Government now is very aware that we need to act urgently," she says.

Ms Marcroft says it's vital that everyone who enters a kauri forest makes sure they aren't bringing in any dirt on their shoes, as the kauri dieback pathogen is smaller than a pinprick.

"What we're facing is the potential of losing our taonga species," she says.

"If that happens and we no longer have this beautiful iconic species in our ngahere then who are we as New Zealanders, who are we when we lose our whakapapa to this tree."

MP Jenny Marcroft.
MP Jenny Marcroft. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Mr Jensen says the cleaning stations are the park's number one defence against kauri dieback. Forest & Bird and the Bushmen's Association recently funded two stations at the two main entrances to the park.

"The third entrance, which is mainly where people come out, we just have a tank of disinfectant and sprays which we want to upgrade to a walk through station."

But, Mr Jensen says he already has trouble accessing the cleaning solution.

"I use about five litres every time I top them up, that's about every third day and at the moment I have very little disinfectant left and if we don't get supplied shortly from somewhere, but I don't know where to go to get it! The council says they've given it to contractors and the contractors haven't done anything," he says.

The fight to keep kauri dieback out of Warkworth's Parry Kauri Park
Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

Mels Barton of the Tree Council says Parry Kauri Park is an example of how communities have had to take the lead when it comes to combating kauri dieback.

"Yet again, the community was having to do the work themselves and that's what we've seen throughout the last ten years," she says.  

Ms Barton also warns that the cleaning stations are not entirely effective, as the disinfectant doesn't kill the oospore, one of the life stages of the kauri dieback pathogen.

"You can spread this disease in a pinhead of soil, so if your shoes are not so clean you'd lick them then they're not clean enough," says Ms Barton.

Ms Barton wants all kauri forests to be closed to the public as a precautionary measure.

Newshub Nation.

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