A prototype Kauri dieback hygiene station that aims to dramatically improve efforts to stem the disease was installed at Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth this month.
It is hoped the prototype will serve as a model for other stations around the country.
Volunteers from Forest & Bird and the Kauri & Native Bushman’s Association pushed ahead with the install, believing Auckland Council has been too slow to respond to the threat posed by the disease at the park.
Warkworth Forest & Bird committee member Roger Williams says with other major parks in the region, such as Waitakere, becoming closed to the public, more tourists are flooding to the park to see the iconic kauri.
The disease is transmitted through soiled footwear. Increasing numbers of tourists heighten the risk of bringing the disease to Parry Kauri Park.
Roger says traditional hygiene stations are often ignored and difficult to use, requiring the user to balance on one leg while spraying chemical on to their shoes or boots.
He estimates 50 per cent of people don’t use them at all and the 50 per cent who do, don’t use them effectively.
The prototype station forms part of the bush track walkway so cannot be avoided. Users run their feet through two brush boxes to remove debris and moisture. Between the brush boxes they walk over mats doused in disinfectant to kill the fungus-like organism that causes the disease.
Because the disinfectant is not sprayed on from a bottle, it must be sheltered from the rain so it does not become diluted. This means the hygiene station is covered by a roof.
Water run-off from the roof can be collected and used to dilute the disinfectant to the appropriate strength. This saves carrying litres of water to the station when the nearest water source is some distance away.
Roger, who was instrumental in the design of the station, is hopeful that it will serve as a model for other stations around the country.
He is also lobbying Council to create a kitset version of the station which can easily be assembled by volunteers in other at-risk parks.