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Preventing the spread of Kauri dieback by cleaning and disinfecting shoes. 

The task was to design and build a custom Kauri dieback cleaning station for Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta is New Zealand oldest and largest tree. Tane Mahuta is also the 4th largest tree in the world and attracts an average of 1,500 visitors a day through out the summer. Sadly the Waipoua forest is heavily effected by Kauri Dieback.

Kauri dieback is the deadly kauri killing disease caused by Phytophthora agathidicida, a soil borne fungus-like disease (formally identified in 2008) and is a distinct and previously undescribed species of Phytophthora. Kauri dieback is specific to New Zealand kauri and is killing trees of all ages from the Waikato to the Far North.

Ironically as nature loving outdoors people with a highly valued tourist industry, we are the main transfer vector for spreading the disease. This occurs through the transfer of infected dirt from one location to another on footwear.

Until this year, many visitors bypassed the original small, retro fitted kiosk cleaning station as it was either swamped by visitor numbers, ignored or dismissed by visitors as not important. DoC visitor studies showed an average of 30% public compliance with the cleaning of their footwear, this value reduced during peek times.

We worked alongside DoC , local Iwi Te Roroa, Far North District Council and NZTA to develop the new cleaning station layout that evolved form the 2015 - 2016 prototypes. As always it was important to change public perception to make them understand and care enough to use the cleaning system and spread the word that cleaning footwear is critical to saving Kauri.

While improved pedestrian flow was critical, it was important to minimise the visual impact the station had. The cladding and signage was developed to increase site promotion and awareness. Tane Mahuta boardwalk access is only available by going through the cleaning station. Wheelchair access was maintained by having entrance and exit ramps.

A site specific cleaning regime was developed alongside Te Roroa to remove the majority of SteriGene [disinfectant] from visitors footwear as they exit the cleaning station and enter the forest. To help achieve this a new spray system was developed to atomize the Sterigene allowing for greater coverage while using 75% less volume. This has the effect of reducing the amount of servicing the DoC rangers have to do and reduces running costs for DoC.

Critically, DoC’s public usage study show a massive 98% compliance by visitors both on the way in and out of the Tane Mahuta trail.

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