Time to stand up for Kauri

In June 2018, The Kauri Project, a charitable Trust responsible for community engagement on Kauri dieback through art and education, calls for the dieback disease management to be handed to an NGO because the Ministry for Primary industries is not taking the threat to Aotearoa’s unique kauri forests and the inherent biodiversity seriously enough.

At recent Environment Select Committee briefings in Auckland and Wellington, seven NGOs and four government and local government organisations gave evidence that the national kauri dieback programme is not working in its current form and the establishment of an independent trust, similar to that established for the Kiwifruit PSA response, is key to developing partnership programmes working with experts in science, mātauranga, iwi and community to implement a new and transparent response.

In its submission, The Kauri Project stated that: A new Trust would perform all management of dieback operations and planning, support research via western science and mātauranga methodology, manage educational and community engagement programmes and focus on empowering iwi, community, landowners etc to develop community solutions and behaviour change.

“It is imperative that this trust must be in full partnership with iwi from each of the kauri forest regions. We should be looking to implement a collaborative, partnership approach to a national issue,” said Chris McBride, Kauri Project curator and trustee. “Both MPI and DOC over the past 10 years have failed to engage with iwi other than to ‘tick the consultation’ box. Iwi must be a full partner to the decision-making process and implementation of processes addressing science and mātauranga research, closure of forests and walkways and the eventual reopening of fully upgraded tracks.”  It is possible that under a new management of kauri forests, some forests would be closed for protection and, in other forests many tracks would be retired while a small number would be upgraded for public access.

“MPI’s ‘consultation’ will not help us out of the dire position we are in where Kauri Dieback is ravaging our forests.  MPI has been the master of spin. Despite a litany of failures across the farming sector (Mycoplasma Bovis) and mismanagement of Myrtle Rust, Velvetleaf, Kiwifruit PSA, Bonamia Ostreae (oysters) and more, MPI has failed in addressing the serious rate of destruction caused by Kauri Dieback / Phytopthora agathidicida and this failure continues to exacerbate NGOs working in the field, including the Kauri Project” says McBride.