A community-led social science programme is bringing together researchers, communities and mana whenua to help save Aotearoa New Zealand’s iconic kauri tree.
Led by Ian Horner of Plant & Food Research, Kauri Rescue is a collaboration that aims to broaden the suite of practical tools available to control kauri dieback.
It’s also providing information to landowners to help them treat their own trees and feed vital information back into the programme to help others.
Empowering New Zealanders to take action feeds into Biosecurity 2025’s strategic direction of creating a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people – the concept that everyone has a role to play in protecting our environment.
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.
The Kauri Rescue team is actively connecting with community volunteers through mainstream and social media, a website, newsletters, workshops with landowners, and attendance at community events – empowering them to participate in trials of potential treatments for kauri dieback.
In doing so, the team is giving communities a sense of hope that they can do something positive to combat kauri dieback, and in turn raise wider awareness and understanding of the disease and its management.
This project contributes towards BioHeritage’s goal of empowering New Zealanders so they feel inspired to protect our environment.
However there are also opportunities to scope and test alternative practices, in particular Mātauranga Māori solutions, and this is being encouraged wherever possible.
Participants in the phosphite study are applying treatments under strict protocols, with information collected by the participants (citizen scientists) fed back into the programme. This enables researchers to collate and analyse information from multiple sites, speeding up the assessment of treatment effectiveness and possible side effects, and ultimately leading to more rapid roll-out of treatment tools.
By analysing the study results, along with the collaborative learning and community engagement processes, the programme could be adapted to become an exemplar for future public biosecurity or conservation initiatives.
Kauri Rescue was launched in Northland in October 2017, following a successful launch in West Auckland in February 2017, and contributes to the BioHeritage Challenge’s goal of future-proofing New Zealand’s biosecurity system from threats.
The multi-media approach being used by Kauri Rescue to raise awareness of the project is generating a significant amount of community interest:
In March 2018, the team coordinated a collaborative learning workshop on a programme participant’s property, helping her carry out the phosphite treatment and data collection for the last 100 kauri trees on her property.
Workshop participants, Kauri Rescue team members and pilot group members passed on their skills to new recruits, empowering them to have the confidence to treat their own trees.
Community feedback from the workshop has been incorporated into treatment protocols, an instruction manual and videos that show people how to apply phosphite treatment to infected kauri.
If you’re looking for any outputs (papers, data etc) from this project that you don’t see on this page please visit our data repository.