There has been a lot of talk recently about the threat of Kauri Dieback disease, especially after the Rāhui was placed on the Waitākere ranges. To protect this precious forest, a number of walking tracks have also been closed to the public. It has been estimated that at least one quarter of Kauri in Waitākere Regional Park have been infected by the disease.
As of yet, there have been no confirmed cases of Kauri Dieback in Kaipātiki. But as pointed out by expert Jack Craw, Kauri Dieback can take 10 years to manifest itself. So we don’t know whether it’s in Kaipātiki or not.
Kauri Dieback ambassadors will be present in our local reserves with kauri - Chatswood Reserve, Kauri Glen, Kauri Park, Le Roys Bush and Leigh Reserve over the coming month. They will be helping people to understand why kauri need to be protected and also how to do this effectively. They are also asking walkers and joggers to complete a survey. The vast majority of visitors have been very knowledgeable about kauri dieback. A significant majority are keen to protect our kauri reserves from the disease and they acknowledge that we may need to do more to make this happen. Sadly, a small minority openly don’t care about protecting kauri. As it takes only one speck of infected soil to bring the disease into Kaipātiki, this small minority risks spoiling it all.
Why are Kauri trees so important?
Kauri is a keystone species for our local forests, and the ecosystem that they create directly supports at least 17 different plant species. Kauri trees create a unique soil type called a podzol that the associated ecosystem depends on. If Kauri become extinct, we will also lose this entire ecosystem.
What is Kauri Dieback Disease?
Kauri Dieback is a disease caused by a microscopic water mould called Phytophthora agathidicida. Their spores are spread through water and in soil and can survive for 8 years (and counting!). The spores infect the tree via their roots, and damage the tissues that carry nutrients within the tree. The pathogen kills Kauri trees of all ages. Infected trees will eventually show a range of symptoms, including yellowing foliage, leaf loss, dead branches, and often (but not always) lesions that bleed resin at the base of the trunk.
How is Kauri Dieback spread?
The disease is spread by the disturbance or movement of contaminated soil. The latest research shows that human activity is the leading cause of the spread of infected soil. But the disease can also be spread by animals such as pigs and dogs, by water moving through the soil (at a much slower rate), and potentially through rivers and streams.
Is there a cure for Kauri Dieback?
Currently, there is no known cure for Kauri Dieback, and there is no guarantee that one will be discovered. Some experiments with injection are underway but the outcomes are uncertain.
Where are Kauri in Kaipātiki?
Kauri trees, including some of magnificent size, are present in several parks, forests and private properties throughout Kaipātiki. There is a high concentration of Kauri in reserves such as Chatswood, Kauri Glen, Kauri Park and Le Roys Bush as well as parts of Birkenhead War Memorial Park and Rangatira Reserve. The Leigh Scenic Reserve contains the largest kauri on the North Shore. Odin Reserve contains magnificent kauri but fortunately there are no tracks in that bush yet.
How do we stop the spread of Kauri Dieback Disease?
If you choose to walk in an area of bush where there are known Kauri trees, it is important that you clean your footwear thoroughly of all dirt before you enter the reserve – even if you haven’t been anywhere that’s known to contain kauri dieback – and on leaving. Then spray your footwear with the Sterigene spray again before going into, and after coming out of the bush. The pathogen can be spread within a minuscule amount of soil, so it is vitally important that we all do this every time. It may take a minute or two to make sure your footwear has been cleaned and sprayed properly, but this may save our Kauri forests.
There are some great bush walks that you can enjoy in Kaipātiki that pose a minimal risk to Kauri, such as Le Roys Bush, where raised platforms have been built near any Kauri. This greatly reduces the chance of soil movement around the tree's roots, so the introduction or disturbance of the pathogen is greatly minimised. For this reason, it's also very important to always stick to the tracks. If you know of an area that contains Kauri and you believe that they are at risk, it's best to stay away.
There are some great bush tracks that you can enjoy in Kaipātiki that pose a minimal risk to Kauri such as Kauri Point Centennial Park (ironically, despite its name, it has no significant kauri) and Eskdale Reserve where you can jog and exercise your pet without risk to kauri. If you want to view kauri without risk to the trees, visit the new boardwalk in Le Roys Bush at 251 Hinemoa Street – but you must still clean your footwear and spray your shoes in case infected soil falls off your shoes through the boardwalk.
If you are not prepared to thoroughly clean and spray your footwear and carry your pet, please keep well away from Kauri Glen, Kauri Park and Chatswood – where kauri roots are growing across the track. This makes them very vulnerable. Even if you haven’t been in a reserve with kauri dieback, you could pick up dirt from someone who has. In all reserves with kauri, it's very important that you, your companions and pets always stick to the tracks. If you know of an area that contains Kauri and you believe that they are at risk, it's best to stay away. If in doubt, please keep out - also share your knowledge with others.
If you have Kauri on your property, make sure you and your visitors keep well clear of trees and their roots. Have a read of this article on taking care of your Kauri trees.
What should you do if you discover an infected Kauri?
Where can I learn more about Kauri Dieback disease?
Have a look at the Keep Kauri Standing website, which includes detailed information, documents and resources about the disease and what we can all do to help save our precious Kauri.
What else can I do to help protect our native bush and trees?
Join Pest Free Kaipātiki and volunteer to help the bush protection groups by:
Helping to keep the cleaning stations topped up
Helping to control rats, possums, weeds and other pests in and around our bush reserves
Politely sharing information about kauri dieback with park users who don’t seem to know or understand the risks
What are the next steps to protect Kaipātiki kauri?
Representatives of the volunteer bush protection groups plan to meet with the Kaipātiki Local Board, local iwi and other stakeholders to discuss expert opinion and formulate a plan for Kaipātiki to get feedback on what will be most effective.
If you’d like to be involved in this consultation, please email us.