Kauri are some of New Zealand’s most important taonga – both ecologically and culturally. But the trees are being killed by incurable kauri dieback disease. Three small areas in Thames Coromandel have been infected – Whangapoua, Hukarahi, and Tairua, but most trees are thankfully disease-free. With government funding provided under a National Pest Management Plan, Waikato Regional Council is partnering with local iwi to protect these magnificent trees.
In Whangapoua a trial to inject phosphite into kauri with kauri disease is showing the injections are helping to stop gum bleeding, which is a symptom of the disease.
“Without treatment, a lot of these trees will die a lot sooner,” says Denis Tegg, Thames Coromandel representative on the Waikato Regional Council. “While phosphite injections don’t permanently cure kauri of the disease, the treatment does temporarily stop or reduce its harmful effects and give the tree a chance to recover”.
Stands of kauri in Manaia in the Coromandel are disease-free and Ngāti Whānaunga and Ngāti Pūkenga ki Manaia iwi are working with the Waikato Regional Council to keep it that way. The council is working with iwi to produce a film to emphasise the importance of cleaning your boots when you go into the bush and other safety measures.
“This is crucial because just a tiny little bit of dirt can spread this disease and we want to stop this disease from getting into the Manaia Sanctuary, which is a magnificent stand of trees,” said Cr Tegg.
Another at-risk area is the Hukarahi Block. It borders farmland and private properties and is frequented by hunters and hikers, so an education and protection program has begun. The Government’s Jobs for Nature programme is assisting Ngāti Hei to work alongside the Department of Conservation to contain the spread of the pathogen.
Other great work is being done by the Kauri 2000 Trust. Kauri 2000 is a long-term project to recreate the significant stands of kauri on public conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula. Over 55,000 kauri have been planted since 2000.
For more information on kauri disease visit https://www.kauriprotection.co.nz or https://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/services/plant-and-animal-pests/kauri-dieback/