New in-your-face messages about keeping footwear clean will soon greet motorists at the entries to Waipoua Forest and other significant kauri zones.

New road signs are being installed as part of the ongoing campaign to save the national taonga from dieback disease.

Two signs will be placed at entry points to the Waipoua Forest, home of Tane Mahuta and other iconic trees, while six have already been erected at high traffic sites on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Signs like these ones on the Coromandel Peninsula will soon be seen at approaches to kauri country in Northland
Signs like these ones on the Coromandel Peninsula will soon be seen at approaches to kauri country in Northland

The signs warn people to clean their footwear in a kauri protection area. The biggest factor in spreading the disease is still contaminated soil collected on boots and gear.

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''We know through our behavioural research that while there is generally a high level of awareness of the threat of kauri dieback disease, unfortunately this does not always flow through into people doing the right thing when they visit kauri forests,'' said John Sanson, head of recovery and pest management for Biosecurity New Zealand.

''Thanks to the support of the New Zealand Transport Agency, we're able to get this first batch of signs up in time for the busier summer period when typically more people are on the road and visiting kauri lands,'' Sanson said.

''The purpose of the signs is to help build a stronger message around the importance of following the cleaning steps when anyone visits kauri lands.''

Working on the project together are Department of Conservation (DoC), Tangata Whenua Roopu, Te Roroa iwi from Waipoua, Auckland Council, and Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional councils. It is hoped more signs can be rolled out across other kauri regions.

Te Roroa has said in the past that other agencies needed to step up to help the iwi deal with the effects of tourism on the highly visited Waipoua Forest.

The signs are one small part of a much wider ongoing kauri dieback programme.

The fight against kauri dieback includes initiatives such as upgraded tracks and cleaning stations in high use areas, track closures, ongoing aerial surveillance, testing and field trials, and continued investment in science and research.

Further research is planned this summer by Biosecurity New Zealand and DoC to better understand what designs and signage get the best response at cleaning stations.

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