Forget the Christmas tree – remember the kauri this summer

Kauri dieback cleaning station at the Auckland ferry terminal. Photo Auckland Council

With the summer holidays arriving in earnest, Aucklanders will be checking out our city’s many parks, ranges and islands to walk, swim and play.

While enjoying these holiday activities, remember to keep our kauri trees in mind.

Kauri are under threat from kauri dieback disease, which infects the roots of giant kauri trees, starving them to death. The disease can be spread by the smallest speck of soil, carried on seemingly innocent hiking boots, bike tires or even dog paws.

To help educate Aucklanders on the disease, a team of kauri dieback ambassadors will be out again this summer, positioned at key high-use locations in the Waitākere and Hunua Ranges, northern regional parks, in Kaipātiki and on Waiheke.

The ambassadors will also be based at wharves where ferries heading out to the gulf islands of Waiheke and Great Barrier depart. They’ll be ready for a friendly chat and to explain the how and why it is so important to protect these mighty giants and encouraging compliance with the ‘triple S’ – scrub, spray, stay.

Waiheke is a priority area as the island is free of the disease and has the potential to become a kauri sanctuary for Auckland. A new pilot cleaning station has been installed at Pier 2 a ferry terminal in the CBD to boost awareness of the problem and encourage visitors and locals to keep the disease away.

A Waitakere Ranges kauri dieback ambassador. Photo Auckland Council

Sir Graham Henry is a resident on the island and a passionate environmentalist. He says, “Kauri are a part of New Zealand’s national identity and it’s crucial we do everything we can to safeguard their survival.

“So, if you are heading over to our island and you’ve been walking in forested areas in Auckland and plan to walk in Waiheke forest, please listen to the advice the ambassadors give and play your part in keeping it disease free.”

It’s not just footwear that’s the problem – if you’re an off-road mountain biker or plan on using a pram on the walks, remember that all mud needs to be removed from the wheels.

The golden rule this summer is, if you see cleaning stations on a wharf or at the entrance to a walking track, listen to the ambassadors offering advice and remember to ‘scrub and spray’ shoes, walking equipment, bike wheels and dog paws.

Stay on the tracks to avoid stepping on kauri roots and always ‘check and clean’ before boarding any boats. Dogs’ paws and coats should be cleaned with pet shampoo before heading out and again on return and most importantly keep your dog on a lead.