9 Oct 2020

Labour pledges stronger protections against kauri dieback if re-elected

2:57 pm on 9 October 2020

Labour is pledging to defend kauri trees from dieback by using the Biosecurity Act's strongest form of protection - a National Pest Management Plan.

Kauri trees

Kauri trees Photo: RNZ/Dan Cook

If it is re-elected, it will spend $32 million over five years to implement the plan, on top of existing funding for tackling the kauri dieback disease.

Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O'Connor said a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) is the strongest tool available under the Biosecurity Act.

"Since 2018 extensive consultation has been carried out with iwi, council partners, and others to discuss a National Pest Management Plan for kauri. Labour is committing to introducing one for kauri to ensure their survival.

"It is a legal framework that will bring together the work of government, councils, iwi and NGOs under a new umbrella agency that will oversee all activity regarding the spread of kauri dieback. It ensures everyone is at the decision-making table and involved in the strategic direction and day-to-day response.

"There are currently three NPMPs in place, for Psa-V in kiwifruit, Bovine Tuberculosis and American Foulbrood in bees. They have been extremely useful in ensuring there is coordinated strategic planning, which is what we need to stop the spread of kauri dieback."

O'Connor says the government has invested $60m for science and research efforts to combat kauri dieback, and in the current financial year, Biosecurity New Zealand and the Department of Conservation have allocated over $14m to protect kauri.

He says kauri are a "cornerstone of the indigenous forests of the upper North Island and play a vital role in supporting other native trees and shrubs including tōtara, tānekaha and rewarewa, with orchids and epiphytic plants often found perching in their branches".

More funding is needed - Greens

The Green Party says Labour's kauri announcement is a "good start", but would "go further and faster to keep our kauri standing".

Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage says more funding is needed - for example, her party's plans to spend $50m over two years and push for more funding.

"Kauri are one of the most ancient trees in the world and tower 50 metres above us. They are an important part of Aotearoa's natural heritage, but without a political commitment to help protect them, they are facing potentially fatal threats from kauri dieback.

"Kauri urgently need increased support and resources. Government agencies, iwi, and regional councils have done what they can over the last few years with limited funding. So much more is needed to protect our magnificent kauri forests in Northland, Auckland, Coromandel and the Waikato."

That's why there needs to be more Green MPs in Parliament, she says.

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