Conservation & Restoration

Ensuring susceptible plant species survive myrtle rust and kauri dieback.

At A Glance:

It’s a huge challenge to conserve and restore kauri and native plants vulnerable to myrtle rust for future generations. 

It requires knowledge of multiple stages of the life histories of the plants, which, in the case of kauri, pōhutukawa, and some species of rātā, needs to take account of them living potentially for many hundreds of years and regenerating naturally only after major disturbance events. 

Importantly, conserving and restoring these taonga requires a Te Ao Māori world view and appropriate governance arrangements over the whenua – not just where adult plants grow but also where they can potentially regenerate.  It requires a Te Ao Māori world view about if and where ex situ cultivation is appropriate to secure these taonga.”

Working from a pathogen host and ecosystem point of view, this investment incorporates conservation biology principles to make sure susceptible plant species survive myrtle rust and kauri dieback in Aotearoa.  

The team aims to: 

  1. Help prevent the extinction of iconic species 
  1. Protect at-risk species and ecosystems, and taonga rākau (trees) and locations 

NRT Kaurilands Summit 2021 – Theme 7 Conservation and Restoration from NZ’s BioHeritage Sci Challenge on Vimeo.


Dr Peter Bellingham

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research

Alby Marsh

Ngāti Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine, Te Rarawa

Plant & Food Research


Projects will include work on the landscape genomics of kauri, building on the excellent mahi (work) from the Healthy Trees, Healthy Futures programme. 

1. Conservation genomics of taonga species

This research is led by Tui Shortland (Awatea Resource Management Consultancy) and Dr Gary Houliston (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research), applying conservation genomics to understanding and managing taonga species under threat from myrtle rust.  

Understanding host diversity and variation is key for both conservation actions and understanding the role of the host in disease expression, and ultimately management. Initial actions for this work will be engagement with mana whenua for their decision and direction around cultural acceptability and desirability of different approaches. 

Upcoming Activities:

  • Co-develop protocols for the effective long-term storage of kauri and Myrtaceae species to ensure that the species can survive even the worst-case scenario.  
  • Co-develop a multi-year plan with hapū to explore culturally acceptable research options for conservation and restoration. 

Research Partners

Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research

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