Forest & Bird last week expressed "deep horror and sadness" at news that the Department of Conservation had confirmed kauri dieback disease in Puketi Forest.

DoC introduced kauri dieback mitigation measures in Puketi last year, including closing eight tracks, to prevent the spread , but it appeared that the kauri may have been infected for some time.

"We are very disappointed that kauri dieback has been found in Puketi, and had been working hard to protect the forest from the disease," biodiversity ranger Dan O'Halloran said.

The public can help prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease by:
* Cleaning footwear and gear of all soil before and after visiting a kauri forest.
* Thoroughly cleaning gear before leaving home.
* Using hygiene stations before entering a forest, and staying on tracks.
* If using poles, ensuring they are also cleaned and only placed on a track, or not using them in kauri forests.


"The infected tree is in a remote location, not near tracks or trap lines or other areas where people are likely to go. We are beginning additional surveillance and sampling work in the immediate vicinity, and also on tracks and traplines in the surrounding area."

DoC was also working closely with its Treaty partners, Puketi Forest Trust, contractors and other forest users to mitigate the risk of any further spread by adhering to the existing strict hygiene protocols.

Forest & Bird demanded the government fund and implement the stalled National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback, spokesman Dean Baigent-Mercer saying Puketi and Warawara forests had the only areas of unlogged kauri left in the world.

"Unlike the Waitakere Ranges, in Northland the disease is being found far from tracks," he said.

"Pigs are the main spreaders of the invisible disease in the North, as they rip up the ground for food and carry the disease in mud on their feet, fur and tusks. We know the disease can travel through their guts and be deposited somewhere else when they defecate."

"Feral pigs are counted within the 100 worst invasive species in the world. Here pigs have no natural predators, except occasional human hunters. In Northland, a sow will have a litter of six or more piglets several times a year. In comparison a female possum has one baby a year."

"High pig numbers turn native forests into giant pig sties with muddy wallows, pig race tracks and smashed under-storey. Extremely high levels of pigs in Puketi Forest are well known. Two years ago a TV news expose showed 40 wild pigs passing a single camera."

"People didn't fight to save these ancient kauri from chainsaws for them to be killed by pigs spreading kauri dieback disease," he added.


"Hunters have been taking pigs or piglets from one spot that happens to be infected with kauri dieback and releasing them in another area and spreading the invisible disease."

"The government must fully fund and implement the proposed National Pest Management Plan for kauri dieback that is currently sitting with Cabinet. New Zealand was promised there would be an accelerated response on kauri dieback more than two years ago, and yet nothing has changed on the ground. Having a consistent set of policies and rules to enable the control of disease spread across all land uses and land owners is essential."

"The health of these forests needs to be improved to help fight the disease and reduce its spread. The last ancient kauri forests left need to be prioritised."