28 Jul 2018

'Devastated': Kauri dieback found in North Shore park

5:51 pm on 28 July 2018

A park that is home to 400-year-old kauri trees on Auckland's North Shore has temporarily closed after kauri dieback was found.

Close up of a Kauri tree trunk in the Waipoua Forest

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Auckland Council said the infected tree in Kauri Park in Birkenhead was found during its dieback surveillance programme, in an area thought to be free of the disease.

That has followed aerial surveys in the area by the council with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The park contains specimens aged 200 to 400 years old.

Auckland Council biosecurity manager Phil Brown said the detection was "a blow to an area of high-value kauri".

"[This] signals an initial infection, but we are also waiting on results of testing of other kauri in the park," he said.

The tree might have been infected for some years before it started showing signs of the disease, Mr Brown said.

The council is immediately closing the park while it waits for further results and develops a plan to manage the risk.

"It is crucial that we limit immediate use to confirm mechanisms to manage the risk in the area."

The track between Kauri Road and Balmain Road will be closed but Mr Brown said reopening it was a priority, once it was confirmed safe to use.

'Gutted'

North Shore councillor Ward Richard Hills said an additional $100 million funding in the 10-year budget towards fighting kauri dieback was needed more than ever.

"I'm devastated to hear this disease has been found in precious native bush that is of vital importance to our community."

He was "gutted" that the bush he grew up in was under threat and that the money would have to go into containing the disease as well as preventing it.

Kapiti Local Board chair John Gillon is pleading with the community to respect the closure, while an investigation is carried out.

"We all need to do our part to keep this from spreading to other parks on the North Shore."

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