8 Apr 2011

DoC looks for ways to save rare Moriori-carved trees

4:43 pm on 8 April 2011

The Department of Conservation is looking at ways to save rare Moriori-carved trees from a fungus on the Chatham Islands.

DoC is working with the University of Otago, Hokotehi Moriori Trust and Historic Places Trust over removing some of dead trees to preserve the carvings and saving the rest.

The university says the number of carved kopi (karaka) trees on the Chathams has dropped from about 200 in the 1960s to 63 last year.

A spokesperson Ian Barber says the Polynesian art work on the trees is the most intact kind in the world.

Dr Barber fears the trees will die out without proper buffering from more bushes. He says the university is talking with DoC and the trust about extending the vegetation and the possibility of putting fertiliser around the trees.

DoC spokesperson Ken Hunt says it is looking at proposals to increase shelter-belts and the use of fertiliser.

Trees already affected by the honeydew fungus could be preserved because of their historical relevance, he says.