Government announces special funding to fight kauri dieback

The lush walk to Karamatura waterfall is a jewel in Auckland's west coast crown - and it's one of hundreds of tracks closed due to kauri dieback.

The threat of dieback is one felt personally to many Kiwis, including director of the BioHeritage Challenge Andrea Byrom.

Ms Bryrom is charged with saving our kauri. She says that she "walked around that corner on the boardwalk where you go and visit Taane Mahuta, and I actually started to cry".

That boardwalk is another track closed to the public due to dieback. Now, the Government is responding to the threat. 

On Monday, special funding of $8.75 million was announced to stop the spread of kauri dieback, which is spread by soil carried on footwear or by animals. Another $5 million was announced for research to stop the spread of myrtle rust - an airborne pathogen that attacks the likes of pōhutukawa and manuka.

Labour MP Megan Woods says the trees are "critical to our biological heritage and to our cultural heritage".

Ms Byrom says what is needed is to "know where it is, how to detect it, and what to do to shut it down".

While this may sound straightforward, the reality is not that easy. Some say the action has come too late. 

Auckland Council realised kauri dieback was a crisis about five years ago, but Chair of Waitakere Ranges local board Greg Presland says "the extent of the problem and how quickly it was growing was not evident early on".

"With the benefit of hindsight, we should have done things more quickly," he added.

Ms Byrom has not lost hope for our forests, saying "it may be too late in some areas, but in others it may be possible to stop the spread and kill it".

The new funding is about getting everyone to work together to stop the dieback spreading. says Ms Woods. However division remains, with Auckland Council under pressure to reopen tracks for the summer crowds.

Local iwi are advising them to keep the tracks closed.