We have had a busy and constructive six months since the Government invested $32m over 5 years in kauri protection.

Our priorities have been to build our team, establish a governance board, develop the operational plan, allocate funding to kauri protection activities and finalise the National Pest Management Plan proposal. We have also developed a new brand which we’ll launch in 2022 to signal the new direction of the programme.

Underpinning all of this activity is our commitment to the Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership. Our objective is to lead kauri protection in partnership with Māori at all levels.

Moving forward with kauri protection

E te whānau whānui o te Kauri, Tēnā koutou katoa

Ko te kauri he whakaruruhau mō nga Iwi Katoa – The kauri is a shelter for all people

Kia toitū te whenua – So that the land endures

Kia toitū te kauri – So that the kauri endures

Governance group

The formation of our governance group is progressing well. The role of the governance group is to provide strategic oversight of the kauri protection programme, and we are delighted to have Huhana Lyndon (Iwi CoLab) and Mike Slater (DOC) on board as co-chairs, complemented by the expertise of Rachel Kelleher (Auckland Council) and Dr Ken Hughey (DOC, Lincoln University).

We are looking to appoint three more Māori representatives and one community representative to the governance group in 2022. These positions are appointed by the Deputy Director-General of Biosecurity New Zealand.

Our team

Our team is now complete, and I am really pleased with the skills and capability we have on board to advance the leadership of kauri protection. For those who haven’t met everyone yet, here’s a brief introduction:

  • Lauren Waller, our Science Lead, is a plant ecologist from Lincoln University who currently holds a Marsden grant for plant pathogen research.
  • Mita Harris, our Operations Manager, was previously a Director at Pouhere Taonga/Heritage NZ and has a strong conservation background.
  • Mike Nathan leads our engagement with iwi, hapu and whānau and is based in Tai Tokerau. Mike was previously Deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
  • Chanchal Chawla, our Programme Co-ordinator, comes from an academic background and now specialises in administration.
  • Polly Prior, our Marketing and Engagement Lead, has a strong background in marketing and communications and comes from Statistics NZ.
  • Rebecca Wills, our Business Manager, has a strong background in local government recreation and MPI business systems.
  • Ian Mitchell will return to our team in February 2022 after a year on sabbatical.
  • We also have a new appointee, to be announced soon, who will lead accreditation and compliance work with agencies and others.

National Pest Management Plan

The proposal for a National Pest Management Plan for kauri (aka the ‘Pa NPMP’) was signed off by Cabinet in November. The Plan is now being drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel Office and we expect that it will enter into force in the second quarter of 2022.  A National Pest Management Plan is the strongest form of protection available under the Biosecurity Act 1993 to help protect kauri from the disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora agathidicida (Pa).

The Pa NPMP will provide consistency for managing the impact of Pa nationally by introducing rules that will become regulations. The rules support the protection of kauri trees and will impact people who interact with kauri through visiting kauri forest areas, people who cultivate kauri trees and people who have kauri trees on their land that are at risk.

We have prepared some initial FAQs about the Pa NPMP rules and implications, which we will develop further as we work through implementation processes over the coming months.

Funding allocations

We are currently allocating funding for kauri protection activities according to four investment Pou. The objective of the Pou is to shape the investment in kauri protection through identifying and optimising collective performance to make the best use of resourcing to deliver the NPMP. The four Pou are:

Pou 1: Building capability and capacity of mana whenua – to lead kauri protection locally

Pou 2: Increasing knowledge to underpin management through enhancing surveillance and monitoring

Pou 3: Building rapport and leveraging research efforts – so that management decisions are well directed by science

Pou 4: On ground mitigation works and development of guides, policies and standards – to prevent movement of the pathogen and protect the trees and involvement of people

In this first financial year the governance group has allocated the following funding against each Pou: Pou 1: $1.8m, Pou 2: $2.5m, Pou 3: $700,000 and Pou 4: $3m. The proportions of funding against each Pou will be adjusted as necessary each year to align with programme priorities.

Significant funding allocations we’ve distributed this year include: $1m each for Northland Regional Council and Waikato Regional Council to undertake kauri protection work at an operational level, $350k to the Department of Conservation for forest plans and pig control, and funding to several iwi for project management, diagnostics, awareness and remote sensing. Further distributions will be made in early 2022.

Collaboration with iwi

Despite the limitations of covid levels we have continued work within Tai Tokerau to co-design surveillance activity for the summer. A plan for surveillance is now well advanced across Tai Tokerau, as is planning for baseline monitoring in new forests and the remeasuring of some existing sites in old growth forests. With the new traffic light system in place kanohi ki te kanohi connections with the rest of kauri lands are now possible.

In early 2022 we will look to identify new opportunities with iwi, hapū and whānau to build their capability and capacity to lead kauri protection locally. We are also planning a series of roadshows to provide updates on the kauri protection programme at a local/regional level.

New ‘Tiakina Kauri | Kauri Protection’ brand coming in 2022

To Māori, the word ‘dieback’ has a negative impact on the wellbeing of kauri, and focuses on sickness rather than on keeping kauri healthy. The Kauri Dieback governance group agreed with advice from the tangata whenua roopu that the Kauri Protection Agency would move away from using the word ‘dieback’, towards language that promotes the health and protection of kauri, so from late 2021 we are phasing out the use of the word ‘dieback’ in our communications.

To support this shift we have developed a new brand: Tiakina Kauri | Kauri Protection, which reflects the new energy, focus and direction of the Kauri Protection programme.  We are excited about the new brand and look forward to sharing it with you when we launch it officially in February 2022.

Wrap up

In summary, this has been an establishment year, with a new team being built and a focus fairly and squarely on the future.

We acknowledge that everyone involved in kauri protection has carried a heavy load over many years, but it is now time to focus on a positive future, build on the good parts of the hard work done by many people, and leave behind the past.

The Pa NPMP is clear in setting the direction, objectives and actions needed to protect kauri – calling for partnership with Māori in the leadership of kauri protection and continued collaboration between Māori, scientists, councils, government agencies and the community – and we look forward to co-ordinating this collaborative and important mahi over the coming years.

Meri Kirihimete,

Alan McKenzie – Manager Kauri Protection