The first two dogs in New Zealand, trained to sniff out the deadly disease kauri dieback, have formally graduated.
Five-year-old Jagdterrier Mawhai and four-year-old English Springer spaniel Pip have spent the last year working with trainers.
They’ll help sniff out the unwanted organism, with the goal of preventing it from spreading further.
Auckland Council’s kauri dieback team manager Lisa Tolich told 1 NEWS that the dogs are now a critical line of defence.
"When those materials are bringing to parklands with healthy kauri, we've got the chance now to screen those in a rapid way and cover large territories too."
Other testing methods can take days to weeks to return a result.
Auckland Council’s spent a little over $49,000 to date in training the two dogs, after formally floating the idea in 2016.
Mayor Phil Goff says it’s a smart investment.
“These dogs provide instant diagnosis,” he said.
“They're a really important tool to spot the spread, and they're cost effective.”
The dogs learnt how to spot the disease through special samples sent from Havelock North, which had to be cleared for use by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Now that training is complete, they’ll be sent back.