10 May 2018

Calls for Ministry to hand over kauri dieback response

10:21 am on 10 May 2018

The Ministry of Primary Industries has failed to fix the problem of kauri dieback, and it should hand over management of the programme, groups involved say.

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Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

The call came only two days before the Okura reserve north of Auckland was due to be closed to prevent further spread of the disease.

The groups, including three Auckland iwi and the Tree Council, will give evidence to the Environment Select Committee this morning.

They said the Ministry had failed badly over the last 10 years and they wanted urgent action now to save kauri from the fatal disease, not more of the same.

Local iwi said the Ministry for Primary Industries had not been transparent about managing kauri dieback, and they had no faith in it.

Te Kawerau ā Maki said the disease showed no sign of slowing down. Its executive manager Edward Ashby said the ministry had been more of a hindrance than a help.

"We've never had any engagement from them. In fact we've had more hindrance than just a lack of engagement from them so we don't have any faith in that programme or the people involved to continue to lead it."

Mels Barton from the Tree Council said a community trust should take over the management of kauri dieback.

"It would do all of the operational work, managing surveillance, hygiene stations, liaising with iwi, land owners and stakeholders engaging in the community, doing public education all around the country."

However, Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage said the ministry would not step back from its responsibilities.

"This government with the step last December to move to a national pest management strategy means we can use the biosecurity act to reduce the risk of kauri dieback spread, and to close areas under the act where they need to be closed."

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Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The select committee meeting comes just two days before a rāhui will be placed at the Okura Scenic Reserve in Auckland where it is estimated around 50 trees are infected.

The reserve is expected to remain closed until at least the end of winter.

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