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Long Bay kauri tested for dieback disease

18 February 2015

The popular Long Bay Kauri Walk in Coromandel is being closed as a precautionary measure while soil samples are being analysed to determine whether kauri dieback is present.

While reviewing the use of cleaning stations at either end of the Long Bay Kauri Walk, Jeanie Allport, a member of the national kauri dieback programme’s operations team identified a symptomatic bleed on the walk’s iconic 1200-year-old tree which is situated adjacent to the track.

“Soil samples have been taken as a precautionary measure.  Due to the tree’s situation to the track, and despite Thames-Coromandel District Council’s efforts at trying to exclude visitors from walking up to the tree, it is evident that this is still occurring – in fact as I was approaching the tree two tourists were walking on its roots, touching the tree’s trunk!“ Mrs Allport says.

“Given the close contact visitors have with this tree, and the symptomatic bleed, we have taken the precautionary approach and taken soil samples to establish whether or not kauri dieback disease is present.”

Derek Thompson, TCDC’s Parks and Reserves Manager says, "The reserve at Long Bay is perfect for visitors to learn good behaviours regarding kauri dieback, with the cleaning stations and signage. However it is disappointing that not all visitors are heeding the advice to stay on the tracks and off the kauri roots.”

Thames-Coromandel District Council has opted to close the walk until such time as the results from the soil sampling have been returned. Mr Thompson says, “This is a precautionary approach.  Depending on the results of the soil sampling will determine the future management of this walk.”

"Don't rely solely on cleaning stations being present at all track entrances.The best action to take is to get into the habit of cleaning your boots and equipment before and after entering the bush," says Mr Thompson.

The results of the soil sampling are due in mid-March.

Kauri dieback is a disease which is spread through soil movement and only effects kauri.  Once the tree is infected it will eventually die. There is no known cure. There are infected trees on Great Barrier Island, Northland and Auckland and in two areas of the Coromandel.  To date kauri dieback on the Coromandel is limited to two areas; the DOC-managed Hukarahi block near Whitianga and the Whangapoua catchment.

Long Bay Kauri Walk photo: Lorraine Duffin