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Track to Tane Mahuta closed this week

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/04/2017

The walking track to the country's largest kauri will be closed until Friday.

Tane Mahuta, in Northland's Waipoua Forest, will be off limits while a footwear cleaning station is installed in time for the busy Easter holiday period.

The station, on the track to the 51.2m giant, is a measure to fight kauri dieback, a fungal disease that infects kauri but has no cure.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced the temporary closure on Monday, another measure as part of a $21.6 million programme towards preventing the spread of dieback.

"Kauri dieback is the single biggest threat kauri have ever faced," she said.

"People walking through a kauri forest can unknowingly spread through their footwear the microscopic pores that cause the disease.

"Dieback slowly starves a tree to death, infecting the roots and destroying tissues that carry water and nutrients."

Te Roroa Manawhenua Trust Board chairman Sonny Nesbit says the spread of dieback is a threat to Tane Mahuta and other trees that have a spiritual and cultural connection to the forest and people.

The Department of Conservation is planning upgrade work on a further 150km of tracks - to make them dry and mud-free - and more cleaning stations in other kauri forests.

Kauri dieback has been in New Zealand since the 1950s, but was not formally identified until 2008.

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