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Published: 2013-12-11 00:00:00

Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) has promptly replaced a boot cleaning station at Hannafords Wharf, Te Kouma, after the earlier facility was stolen less than 24 hours after being installed last week. It’s believed it may have been pulled out using a vehicle.

The boot cleaning station – at the wharf near Coromandel town where many Auckland visitors arrive by ferry - was to help stop the spread of kauri dieback disease into the district from known infection sites in Auckland, Northland and Great Barrier Island. Its installation involved TCDC, the regional council, ferry operators 360 Discovery and the multi-agency Kauri Dieback Programme.

However, the station - which featured a 60 litre plastic drum and supporting wooden table, and which was worth about $1800 all up - was stolen in a “selfish and stupid” act, said regional council biosecurity group manager John Simmons.

“This station was designed to protect the district’s iconic kauri and I’m just appalled that someone has decided to steal it for whatever reason for their own ends.

“However, we compliment TCDC on swiftly developing and firmly securing a replacement cleaning station which consists of a mat in a larger stainless steel tray.

“We would like anyone with information on this theft to contact either the police, the regional council or TCDC. People need to be held to account for this selfish act.”

In the meantime, agencies working together on halting the spread of kauri dieback to the Coromandel will be putting warning signs up on other wharves in the district.

“We want people coming into the district to be especially careful about taking measures to stop kauri dieback speading,” said TCDC’s parks contract manager Derek Thompson.

To help keep the disease from Coromandel and the Waikato generally, here are some key tips for residents and visitors alike:

  • Remove all soil from your footwear – it only takes a speck of dirt to infect a tree.
  • Spray footwear with disinfectant to sterilise any remaining dirt.
  • Clean your footwear and other gear before and after forest visits.
  • Stay on the track and off kauri roots.

These tips remain very important despite a recent Waikato survey, mostly at Coromandel sites, not detecting any signs of kauri dieback, said Mr Simmons.

“We can’t be complacent. To help the Waikato be kauri dieback-free, ensure footwear, tramping gear and equipment are thoroughly cleaned before entering forests and thoroughly cleaned again afterwards,” said Mr Simmons.

More information is available at www.kauridieback.co.nz