New strategy to tackle kauri dieback

  • Maggie Barry
  • Nathan Guy
Primary Industries Conservation

A new joint strategy to tackle kauri dieback has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

“Kauri dieback is a serious disease which needs a coordinated effort to tackle it. Therefore it’s great to see the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and tāngata whenua have developed this new strategy,” says Mr Guy.

“This new approach builds on the last five years and aims to significantly ramp up protection for kauri with a more than three-fold increase in funding over the next five years.

“The strategy is backed up by additional government funding over the next four years. Budget 2014 featured a new investment of $26.5 million over four years to tackle this disease.”

“Kauri are an iconic part of New Zealand’s landscape. This partnership between central agencies, iwi and communities is key to managing this disease, and to ensure future generations can enjoy healthy kauri forests,” says Ms Barry.

“The strategy outlines a shared vision in protecting kauri, and the increased efforts including research in managing the disease and improving tracks near kauri trees on Department of Conservation-managed land.”

Kauri dieback is caused by a fungus-like organism that kills kauri trees indiscriminately, from the mightiest of forest giants to the smallest of seedlings.

“Everyone can help by removing all soil and cleaning their gear when entering and leaving kauri forests around New Zealand this summer,” says Ms Barry.

The full Strategy is available on the Programme’s website at

Frequently asked kauri dieback questions:

What is kauri dieback?

Kauri dieback is caused by a microscopic fungus-like organism called Phytophthora ’taxon Agathis’ (PTA).

It is spread through the movement of microscopic spores in soil, water, and root/wood material.

What does it do to kauri?

This disease infects kauri roots and damages the tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree. This basically starves the tree to death. Symptoms include yellowing leaves, canopy thinning, dead branches and bleeding gum at the base of the trunk. Nearly all infected trees die.

Where has it been found?

Kauri dieback has been detected in Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and on Great Barrier Island.

In the Auckland region kauri dieback has been detected in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park administered by Auckland Council, DOC reserves at Okura and Albany and on private land at a number of locations.

In Northland it has been detected in Trounson Kauri Park and Waipoua, Omahuta,  Russell, Raetea and Pukekaroro native forest reserves managed by DOC. It’s also been detected in the privately managed Glenbervie pine forest, which has pockets of kauri and a number of other sites on private land.

How did it get here?

Scientists realised kauri dieback was “a new disease to science” in 2008. However, spores of kauri dieback were first discovered along with sick kauri on Great Barrier Island in the 1970s. Identification methods at the time led to these samples being misclassified. There are also indications it has been in New Zealand since the 1950s.

Soil microbes could take a long time to build up in the soil before any effect is seen in the environment. It may be that we have been spreading it around kauri forests for the last 50 years without realising this was happening, especially as we are more mobile as a society than we were even 25 years ago. It’s only now that we know kauri dieback spores are present in the soil and are fatal to kauri.

What are we doing about it?

Scientists in the kauri dieback response programme are working to find out more about the disease and how it spreads.

We know that the kauri dieback spores can be transported in minute amounts of soil and are working to prevent members of the public from spreading the disease.

The many locations affected, and the fact we do not currently have a cure means we need to concentrate on minimising the risk of spreading the disease. 

The Kauri Dieback Management Programme will continue to focus its efforts on slowing the spread of kauri dieback and protecting our remaining disease-free forests while working to identify better ways to detect, manage and control this disease and its impacts on our kauri.

This involves ongoing work to raise awareness of the disease, its symptoms and how it can be spread. Everyone is being reminded to clean footwear and other gear in contact with soil when entering and leaving a kauri forest.

Who manages and funds the Programme?

The Kauri Dieback Management Programme is a partnership between Tāngata Whenua, MPI, DOC, Auckland Council, Northland Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council and Bay of Plenty Regional Council. It was established in 2009.

$26.5 million of new funding was provided to the Kauri Dieback Management Programme in Budget 2014.

The new funding will go towards significantly increased track upgrades, new hygiene station installations on Department of Conservation land, and research into tools to manage the disease.  Public engagement work and overall management of the programme will also benefit from the additional funding.