Date: 22 November 2018
Te Roroa, kaitiaki over Waipoua Forest, and DOC can confirm that new test results indicate the area in the immediate vicinity to Tāne Mahuta is clear of phytophthora agathidicida (PA), the pathogen that causes kauri dieback disease. However, two sites located approximately 60 m and 90 m away are positive for the pathogen.
Taoho Patuawa, Science and Research Manager for Te Roroa, says that this information will allow the Te Roroa Mana Whenua Board, in partnership with DOC, to make an informed decision on the future of the Tāne Mahuta walkway and also validates the need for further protection measures to continue within the forest.
“I am pleased that no sign of the disease has been detected any closer to the rangatira (chief) kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta, but the risk still remains,” says Taoho Patuawa.
The soil sampling was conducted by scientists at Plant and Food Research and staff of Te Roroa, after consultation with DOC, from 8–10 October this year to establish how close the disease was to Tāne Mahuta. In total, 104 samples were taken on a 200 m by 200 m grid. This included a ring of seven samples taken approximately 2 m from the base of the trunk of Tāne Mahuta, where PA was not detected.
Two samples taken approximately 60 m and 90 m away from Tāne Mahuta tested positive for PA. Both sites are no closer to Tāne than the site confirmed with the disease in June this year and are not publicly accessible.
“After discovering kauri dieback near Tāne Mahuta earlier this year, we avoided a knee-jerk response and took a carefully planned approach, using available science to detect the spread of the pathogen in the immediate area surrounding Tāne Mahuta,” says Taoho Patuawa.
“We also acknowledge the support of DOC and Biosecurity New Zealand (part of the Ministry for Primary Industries) who have been working in partnership with us to protect one our most significant and symbolic taonga tuku iho (enduring treasures).”
“It is still vital that all visitors to Waipoua respect our wishes to stay on the track and clean their footwear when they visit and leave the forest,” says Taoho Patuawa.
The soil sampling was undertaken as part of the Tāne Mahuta Response Plan, which was initiated by Te Roroa, and is carried out by Te Roroa in partnership with DOC and Biosecurity NZ.
Sue Reed-Thomas, DOC Director of the Northern North Island, says more will be done working in partnership to ensure the risk of the disease is managed.
“We’ll continue to pour all our energy into restricting the spread of the disease, with the Tāne Mahuta Response Plan as our guide. A five-year pig control programme for Waipoua Forest will be underway shortly to move pigs out of core areas and where the disease is nearby”, says Sue Reed-Thomas.
“The Tāne Mahuta site has long been one of the most protected areas in the country from kauri dieback, with boardwalks, cleaning stations and members of Te Roroa as ambassadors in place.”
“However, to help keep Tāne and our kauri standing, it’s important for everyone to stick to the boardwalks and clean their footwear thoroughly before entering and leaving Waipoua Forest”, says Sue Reed-Thomas.
Roger Smith, head of Biosecurity New Zealand and chair of the kauri dieback programme Governance Group, says they are pleased to help support and facilitate the testing as part of the programme – just one of a significant number of projects and initiatives continuing across the programme at many levels to protect kauri.
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