The Bay of Plenty remains New Zealand's only region without kauri dieback and local biosecurity leaders are fighting to keep it that way.

In May, the Minister for Biosecurity approved the new National Pest Management Plan, subject to funding. However, the Budget 2019 did not include any funding to include the plan for kauri dieback.

Last week, an Environmental Select Committee Report released labelled the Government's handling of the dilemma as "appalling". A petition and open letter to the Government calling for urgent funding for the plan to fight kauri dieback has also been launched.

Among those calling for a better Government response is Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital.

Advertisement

Co-chairman Carlton Bidois said while funding decisions were never easy, "in this case -they've got it wrong".

"The potential extinction of our iconic kauri trees is devastating, and protecting our region from this disease should be everyone's business."


Kauri dieback can kill kauri trees of all ages. It's a disease caused by a microscopic fungus-like organism, called Phytophthora agathidicida. It lives in the soil and infects kauri roots, damaging the tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree, effectively starving it to death. There is no known cure for kauri dieback.

Bidois said the Tauranga Moana area could be the last bastion for natural kauri stands as the disease has not been detected in the region. The Government decision was a "huge setback" and "travesty against biosecurity".

"Iwi and hapū across the country feel so let down by the Budget decision, and lack of recognition to the cultural and ecological implications. The cultural economy is reliant on taonga species such as kauri, the ecological integrity of the forest is correspondingly reliant on the ecosystem's services derived from the kauri."

Bidois said the loss of kauri would significantly impact on Māori culture and epistemology.

In October, six walking tracks in the Tauranga region were permanently closed to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback. The closures were six of 21 around the North Island.

An additional nine tracks were partially closed and the open sections upgraded to eliminate wet and muddy sections of track and better protect the roots of kauri trees.

Advertisement

A Biosecurity New Zealand spokeswoman said Budget decisions were made by ministers and the department could not comment on funding directly. However, the development and implementation of the National Pest Management Plan was an "ongoing journey".

Ministers were looking at funding options, she said.