Government steps up kauri protection

The Government is delivering on an election commitment to protect kauri in our northern forests through the new National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) for the forest giant and the allocation of $32 million of funding to back the coordinated effort, Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor and Associate Environment Minister (Biodiversity) James Shaw announced today.

Celebrating the launch of the NPMP today with kauri protection representatives in the Waitakere Ranges of Auckland, Damien O’Connor and James Shaw said collaboration and partnership were imperative to slow-down the deadly Phytophthora agathidicida (PA) pathogen that was known as ‘dieback disease’, and toward continued restoration of our native forests.

“This pathogen is like a biological bulldozer. It’s crucial for our unique biodiversity and biosecurity that we take strong action to fight this,” Damien O’Connor said.

“A National Pest Management Plan is the strongest protection we can take under the Biosecurity Act. We’ve established Tiakina Kauri as the management agency to coordinate the fight.

“In Auckland, those involved in aerial and ground surveillance monitoring of the Waitakere Ranges have mapped both healthy and infected kauri throughout the forest, providing a baseline measure from which we can track the spread or decline of the disease.

“In Puketī Forest in Northland, a pilot project, designed with mana whenua and the Department of Conservation, will record how many kauri trees are in the area, determine the baseline distribution of the PA pathogen and map kauri health patterns across the forest,” Damien O’Connor said.

Mana whenua will now lead on the ground surveillance to confirm the presence and location of the pathogen and disease across all kaurilands.

“Capacity is being built among eight hapū across Northland, along with training to support the development of surveillance plans and subsequent ground surveillance work,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Building on the Puketī Forest pilot project, aerial surveillance work has extended to the rest of Northland and Coromandel regions, with enough aerial imagery to start mapping kauri locations and health. Once the mapping is complete, wider ground surveillance across these regions will be initiated,” Damien O’Connor said.

James Shaw said it was fantastic to see the commitment to partnership and collaboration demonstrated by all those involved in national kauri protection efforts. 

“I want to acknowledge the tireless work of many and commitment going in to protecting kauri from disease and securing the future of our native flora and fauna.”

“In particular, I want to acknowledge the level of partnership with Māori and collaboration across the conservation, biosecurity and science sectors, which will be imperative for the continuing success of this work.

“Protecting our precious Kauri and improving pest management is an important part of the Cooperation Agreement between Labour and the Green Party, so I am delighted by the progress made since the national pest management strategy came into effect.

“Tackling the biodiversity crisis goes hand-in-hand with tackling the climate crisis. By protecting our forests, we can harness the power of nature to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This work will go a long way towards achieving that goal, as will the forthcoming National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity,” said James Shaw.

Damien O’Connor said Biosecurity was vital to New Zealanders for broad reasons.

“Our Biosecurity work, from eradicating Mycoplasma bovis, and tackling wilding pines, to protecting kauri, is about securing our economy, biodiversity and heritage. In doing so, this benefits the wellbeing of New Zealanders now and for future generations,” Damien O’Connor said.

Notes to the Editor:

About the Puketī Forest pilot project

  • The first tranche of aerial surveys is complete. Aerial surveillance illustrates the kauri crown locations and indicates where stress may occur in the canopy. Ground surveillance (i.e. tree health assessments and soil samples) are paired with aerial imagery to determine where the disease and pathogen is.
  • The project has seen Māori, Government agencies such as Tiakina Kauri and Department of Conservation working together with Auckland Council, biosecurity training specialists, universities, and Crown Research Institutes.

More information

  • The National Pest Management Plan provides a platform for working in partnership and collaboration with mana whenua, councils, central government agencies and NGOs to deliver a coordinated kauri protection strategy.
  • A National Pest Management Plan is the strongest protection under the Biosecurity Act and locks in 5 years of funding.
  • As part of the national plan, Biosecurity New Zealand has established a management agency, Tiakina Kauri, to work in partnership with mana whenua and with councils, central government agencies and NGOs to deliver a co-ordinated kauri protection strategy.  
  • Read more about the National Pest Management Plan for the protection of kauri here.