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Kauri Dieback Forum employs coordinator.

11 February 2015

Volunteer efforts to save the Coromandel’s kauri from a devastating disease have taken a major step forward with the appointment of Tairua’s Alison Smith as the new Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum co-ordinator.

The appointment follows last year’s Forum workshops in which local communities around the Coromandel worked together to identify ways to limit the impact of kauri dieback disease (Phytophthera agathis).

Funding from the Department of Conservation will enable the coordinator to set up, support and co-ordinate community-led programmes to contain the spread of kauri dieback disease in the Coromandel area.

The set up and support of local groups will be a top priority for Alison, and over the next six months she will be establishing contact and working with schools, developing closer relationships with local iwi and helping to organise the Forum's activities.

Kauri dieback disease was first confirmed on the Coromandel in March in the Hukarahi Reserve near Whitianga, and infected sites have since been identified in the Whangapoua catchment. Sites reported by locals in other parts of the Coromandel are currently being investigated.

The Forum, an independent volunteer organisation working alongside the Kauri Dieback Management Programme, Department of Conservation, and the Thames-Coromandel District and Waikato Regional Councils, believes it will take a combination of individual effort and a collective rallying of communities to stop further loss of this iconic species.

“It could be seen as a very daunting task – given what our kauri face – but local communities are proving to be very passionate about protecting their kauri and the Forum is just one component in growing network of individuals, organisations and agencies committed to working together to save this iconic species,” says Alison.

Just one week into her role, Alison and Council's Parks and Reserves Manager, Derek Thompson worked on a plan to install signs and brushes at all campervan dump stations on the Coromandel.

"Having the cleaning stations available at the dump stations means that we are able to educate visitors to the area who may not be aware of the significance of kauri to New Zealanders," says Mr Thompson.

Find the campervan waste dumping locations here.

What is Kauri Dieback?

Kauri dieback disease kills kauri of all sizes and ages, and there is currently no known cure. New Zealand has only around 1% of its kauri remaining, which makes efforts to reduce the threat from the microscopic Phytophthora taxon Agathis (or PTA ) disease even more urgent.

“We want to hear from anyone who would like to help, whether with ideas or practical actions out in the bush. Every individual can play a vital role in protecting kauri, at work and at play, by helping to spread the word and by observing the proper hygiene procedures," says Alison.

“The message is actually pretty simple. Kauri dieback disease is spread through soil movement, so cleanliness is the key, whether you’re tramping, mountain biking, hunting, undertaking pest control, fencing or property development. Scrub your boots, walking poles and any equipment or machinery completely free of soil before and after going into the bush, every time. If you would like to get more involved, contact me about becoming a kauri champion and be part of the great group of people that make up the Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum,” says Alison.

Our Kauri Dieback project page has more information on the disease. Anyone wishing to help establish a local group committed to fighting kauri dieback disease in their area should contact Alison Smith on 07 864 7553.