‘We are never too late’ to fight kauri dieback, says arborist

Morning Talk 05/01/2018
Photo: Getty.

Tucked within Waitākere Ranges, a 1000 year old tree dubbed Auntie Agatha has succumbed to kauri dieback. The dying kauri tree, a symbol for Aucklanders, is an imminent reminder of the disease that’s bringing the kauri to extinction.

Fredrik Hjelm from The Living Tree Company joins Summer Morning Talk to break down the facts on protecting New Zealand’s native tree.

“All you need is a needle pin head of soil to spread the disease,” he says.

Mr Hjelm’s company, The Living Tree Company, leads the ground truthing surveys that provided the data for the latest reports about the dramatic spread of Kauri dieback throughout the Waitākeres.

His team spent the last three years walking the 256 km of track - inspecting 22,744 kauri within the Waitākere region for signs of infection.

“We do find the disease quite far in the bush,” he says.

Kauri trees existed all over the world dating back 190 million years, but over time died everywhere except New Zealand.

“We are never too late - we can’t give up,” he says.

For the Waitākere Ranges, kauri trees are spread across 250km of tracks with over a million visitors a year.

Yet according to Hjelm, 80 percent of visitors don’t clean their boots.

“Respect the bush,” he says. “Clean your boots.” 

Listen to the full interview with Fredik Hjelm above.

Summer Morning Talk with Stephen McIvor, weekdays from 9am-noon on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the ROVA app on Android and iPhone.