The BioHeritage Challenge is leading development of the programme, known as Ngā Rākau Taketake – Saving our Iconic Trees. Its development follows the announcement of new investment, with the focus being to accelerate work already being done by Government agencies, councils, research providers, Māori and interest groups.
Kauri dieback is threatening Aotearoa New Zealand’s taonga (treasured) kauri with extinction, and myrtle rust is threatening many iconic native species as well as plants important to primary industries. More knowledge is urgently needed to underpin future approaches and tools to fight the two pathogens.
The name Ngā Rākau Taketake reflects the historical connections Māori and other New Zealanders have with our kauri and myrtaceae trees. Taketake refers to the permanence of that relationship. This programme aims to protect and restore that relationship and connection.
Leading development and implementation of Ngā Rākau Taketake are BioHeritage Challenge Strategic Leadership Group members Dr Nick Waipara, of Plant & Food Research, and Dr Maureen O’Callaghan, of AgResearch. Nick is heavily involved with New Zealand’s kauri dieback response, while Maureen has extensive experience in leading large, complex research programmes.
Kauri dieback is a disease that has killed hundreds, possibly thousands, of the taonga (treasured) trees in the North Island, and threatens the unique and ecologically important kauri ecosystem. New Zealanders have strong emotional and cultural attachments to kauri and the loss is having a major impact on our communities.
This project contributes towards BioHeritage’s goal of helping to create a world-class biosecurity system for New Zealand.
Tranche 2 Research Programmes
Te Mauri o te Rākau: Mātauranga Māori solutions to kauri dieback.
Co-led by Dr James Ataria (Cawthron Institute) and Alby Marsh (Plant & Food Research) in collaboration with Te Tira Whakamātaki.
Just as Western science evaluates for scientific excellence, this team aims to ensure the mātauranga Māori projects they facilitate are of the highest quality and allow for real investment in indigenous science, and so have developed standards/measures to ensure this. All projects will also be subject to international peer review.
Mātauranga Māori Surveillance Framework for plant pathogens.
Co-led by Dr Dean Anderson at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and Waitangi Wood from Ngatirua, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi Nui Tonu.
The aim of the MMSF is to inform future mātauranga Māori and science research investment priorities for surveillance within biosecurity. By employing a trans-disciplinary approach the team want to find solutions that improve surveillance across New Zealand.
They are working on ensuring the MMSF aligns with various systems, including the surveillance system within our biosecurity network, the activities from central and local government agencies, and stakeholders who are part of biosecurity.
The MMSF team are aware of the many opportunities for aligning their work with existing kauri dieback and myrtle rust mahi (work). They are using existing and emergent pathogen surveillance data and information, paired with hapū/Iwi kaitiaki who are intimate with their taonga.
They will use the framework across kaitiaki-centric ‘Biodiversity Management Areas’, to test tools and techniques that inform the development of future-fit and responsive surveillance, that will protect our natural biodiversity.
Control, protect and cure: tools for detection and management.
Led by Dr Tara Strand at Scion.
Development of tools for detection and management of myrtle rust and kauri dieback, for kaitiaki and land managers.
- Rapid diagnostic and field-based detection methods
- Alternative disinfectants
- Mātauranga Māori-based bioactives
Myrtle rust risk assessment
Led by Dr Beccy Ganley at Plant & Food Research.
- Monitoring the impact of myrtle rust on native Myrtaceae, especially highly vulnerable Lophomyrtus spp.
- Monitoring disease incidence, severity, tree and seedling mortality.
- Measuring leaf flush (new growth) in native Myrtaceae.
- This will collect information about the time period that plant species are susceptible to myrtle rust and will inform predictive surveillance models.
- Field host susceptibility/resistance testing
- Field trials that will use the same seed-lots that have been tested against the pandemic strain (present in NZ) and other overseas strains.
- It will be the first time in the world that the same material will be tested under controlled experimental conditions and then in the field. This will provide information on strain virulence.
- Viability of germplasm
- Investigate the reproductive rate of infected and uninfected trees in native forest.
Mobilising for action: social research to empower communities to protect rākau.
Led by Dr Marie McEntee at University of Auckland.
Landscape genomics of kauri
Led by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
Tranche 1 Research Programmes
- Combatting pathogen risk using genomics Led by Dr Bevan Weir at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.
- Stopping kauri dieback in its tracks Led by Dr Monica Gerth at Victoria University of Wellington.
- Tiaki mō kauri: citizens combatting kauri dieback Led by Dr Ian Horner at Plant & Food Research.
- Whakawātea riha rāwaho: Māori solutions to biosecurity threats Led by Alby Marsh at Plant & Food Research.