Kauri should have been tested for dieback, says uni specialist

A kauri dieback expert believes something has gone "really wrong" for the giant kauri at the centre of a protest in West Auckland to be listed for felling without being checked for the disease.

A protester spent a second night up the tree, believed by many to be 500 years old, and dozens were expected to return to the property in Titirangi today to further protest its felling to make way for a private developer's plan to build two houses.

Dr Cate Macinnis-Ng, a lecturer in biological sciences at Auckland University, said the kauri was on a road in Titirangi riddled with kauri dieback, but this tree had not been tested for the disease.

"A number of properties have confirmed cases of dieback.


"If this tree is healthy it's even more significant because it may have some resistance to the dieback disease."

She said if the tree tested positive for the disease then strict biosecurity processes would need to be undertaken through the felling process to ensure the disease didn't spread.

It would also mean consequences around any removal or shifting of soil from the property.

"Something has gone really wrong for these biosecurity processes not to be put in place," Dr Macinnis-Ng said.

People have speculated the kauri could be 500 years old, and Dr Macinnis-Ng said she believed that estimate to be about right.

She said a tree of that age and size held significant benefits for the environment. "The ecological value of a single tree can be really significant and ... it just seems like that hasn't been fully considered in the process."

In the Waitakeres 11 per cent of kauri are infected with dieback.

Michael Tavares, 32, climbed up the tree on early on Monday and last night had a better sleeping platform.


Protest organiser Aprilanne Bonar said another day of protesting had gone well. "Today has been really encouraging ... Michael is doing really well ... we're all standing firm."

Ms Bonar said a ropes and pulley system was delivering Mr Tavares' supplies, but all processes were taken to protect the kauri from any harm.

She said there was no indication of how long Mr Tavares would stay up in the tree. Protesters were expected to converge on the property again today in the hope of a resolution with Auckland Council.