Auckland artist captures the human cost of kauri dieback

An Auckland photographer has made it her mission to document the human cost of the devastating kauri dieback disease.

Michelle Hyslop is telling the personal stories of 30 people across the North Island, and exhibiting her work in the trees of Auckland's Albert Park.

She says most of us have heard about the science behind kauri dieback but for her the issue is also an emotional one.

"I used to do a lot of trail running in the Waitakeres, and so my community was lots of other people that enjoyed being out there. So with the rāhui and the closures, we had a lot of conversation about it."

The conversation led her to look at the human side of kauri dieback.

"I'm always so interested in people and in their stories, and if people are feeling sad about something, I kind of want to communicate that and why."

After winning a $10,000 grant, Hyslop spent eight months photographing 30 different people from the far north to Rotorua.

"So I've got the scientific element, I've got people who use mātauranga Māori to protect their kauri, I've got businesses who have been affected by the closure."

One of those is Kaumatua Kevin Prime, who uses karakia to protect the kauri on his Northland property.

"To send the spirit of healing, over every tree and filtered down from the top of the tree, down through the leaves, the branches, the bark, the body of the tree, into the roots."

Auckland Council worker Te Amohaere Ngata-Aerengamate was also photographed after writing a waiata about kauri dieback.

"So (the lyrics) 'me muku wo hu' means scrub your shoes, 'wairehu wo hu' means to spray, and 'kia u ki te ara tika' means to stay on track. So that's basically the scrub, spray, stay message."

The song will be played alongside Hyslop's 30 photographs, which have been carefully suspended in the trees of Albert Park.

"It's a way to connect with nature, for people to actually look up and start thinking about the trees and appreciating them."

They'll be on display until the beginning of March.