Dirty shoes and pigs' trotters were among subjects covered at Northland meetings about the disease some experts predict could lead to the extinction of kauri.

Frustration was voiced — albeit politely — at the Ministry for Primary Industries-organised hui in Whangārei this week on the national kauri dieback strategy and how to fix perceived dysfunction at the governance level.

If one sentence could sum up the over-riding public sentiment at NorthTec's Te Puna o Te Mātauranga Marae it would be: Stop talking about the bureaucracy, and get on with stopping the spread of the disease.

Read more: New panel to peer review Northland kauri dieback recovery efforts


Three public meetings in Northland this week addressed the need to refresh the 2014 strategy, and introduced a new action topic, a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP).

''Kauri are in trouble. It is spreading and we need to stop that,'' said MPI biosecurity expert and dieback programme leader Andrew Harrison.

He said sometimes governing bodies paid too much attention to old policy and rules and undermined work getting done ''on the ground''.

''The conversation needs to be have we the got the direction right or how should we be changing it, establishing a co-ordinated long-term approach and accelerating change.''

The proposed NPMP, under the Biosecurity Act, would be the strongest form of action plan, adaptable, community-led and voluntarily picked up, Harrison said.

A draft NPMP would not be ready until October/ November this year. Rural Whangārei resident Soozee McIntyre was critical of that timeframe and the seeming reluctance of authorities to devolve more responsibility to iwi for on-ground work.

''There are things that we know can be done right now, not in November,'' she said.

When people raised the issue of wild pigs spreading dieback spores on their snouts, trotters and through droppings, Harrison said there was little scientific advice about the impact of pigs.


Among several who disagreed that pig-spread was based on anecdotal evidence only, was Jack Craw, former deputy head of biosecurity with Auckland Council. Craw was involved in dieback control measures at Auckland reserves, including ''turning poachers into eco-warriors''.

Tests on 1000 snouts and trotters which hunters brought in initially came back clear of kauri dieback. But when testing was repeated ''when the science had caught up'' at least five samples were positive, proving pigs were vectors, Craw said.

A Massey University study also proved pigs could carry undigested dieback spores in their gut and pass them through their system, he said.

''To put it in perspective, pigs are not the major vector. That's humans, it's us.''

Most at the meeting agreed that boardwalks, improved tracks, and shoe and equipment cleaning were vital in stopping dieback's spread.