Far North hunters are being enlisted in the battle to stop the spread of kauri dieback.
The disease threatens Northland's few remaining kauri forests and was just last week detected near the Four Sisters, a cluster of giant kauri in Waipoua Forest, prompting the immediate closure of a walking track.
For the first time last Saturday the Department of Conservation used a kiwi aversion training session to also update hunters on the threat posed by kauri dieback.
Pig hunters applying for permits to hunt on conservation land in the Far North have to put their dogs through aversion training to discourage the animals from attacking any kiwi they encounter in he bush.
DoC Bay of Islands biodiversity ranger Maddy Powers said Saturday's event at Puketi Forest was a chance to have a conversation with hunters about where dieback has been found so far and what could be done to avoid spreading it.
One of key messages DoC hoped to get across was the importance of boot hygiene as the simplest and most effective way of preventing the spread of kauri dieback.
Hunters were given ''prevention kits'' with a brush, bottles of Trigene disinfectant and pamphlets they could keep in the back of their vehicles.
However, just spraying disinfectant on to muddy boots was not effective, Powers said.
''Boots have to be clean when you go into the forest so the best thing to do is, as soon as you get home, hose off the mud while it's still wet. It's the mud that carries the disease, and if you leave it until it dries it's impossible to get it all off with a hand brush alone.''
DoC kauri protection ranger Hana Hunter said 27 hunters and four kiwi aversion trainers took part.
The hunters, who are among the frequent users of the forest, had lots of questions about the disease, its location, how it was spread and what they could do to help prevent it.
A barbecue and hot drinks were provided and a display board showed where kauri dieback had so far been found in Omahuta and Whangaroa forests and how easily it could be spread to Puketi Forest.
More kiwi aversion/kauri dieback information days would be held in future, Harris said.
■ Within the wider Bay of Islands kauri dieback has so far been confirmed in Omahuta Forest (near Omahuta Forest Rd, on the way to the kauri sanctuary); two sites off Puketotara Rd, west of Kerikeri; and in Whangaroa Forest, near Totara North. DoC is waiting for test results from suspected cases in Puketi Forest and Paikauri Conservation Area as well as other sites around Whangaroa. The disease can be spread by people, pigs, goats, cattle and horses.