Māori excluded from kauri dieback response - advocates

Māori excluded from kauri dieback response - advocates
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Māori are being excluded from the kauri dieback response decision-making process, politicians have heard at select committee.

Presenters at the briefing said the Biosecurity Act, a tool to manage incursions, is "very powerful", but "excludes Māori".

The briefing from indigenous environmental sociologist Melanie Mark-Shadbolt and tangata whenua representative on the governance of the kauri dieback programme Waitangi Wood said Māori are excluded until the long-term management stage of a biosecurity incursion.

"Māori are not only excluded from the system but we're excluded from the solutions as well," Ms Mark-Shadbolt told the committee members.

She lamented a lack of political will to deal with the incursion.

Kauri dieback is a pathogen that is fatal to all kauri it infects. The disease is spread on the shoes of humans, as well as by animals like pigs.

The presence of kauri dieback in an area is often heralded at the entrance to popular walking tracks with the presence of shoe cleaning stations. But politicians were warned there is "no proof" the use of the sprays and disinfectant "kills all the stages of the life cycle of the pathogen".

The release of MPI documents to Newshub showed the response has been patchy, with governance juggled by MPI, the Department of Conservation, tangata whenua and local councils.

In Auckland, Te Kawarau a Maki instituted a rāhui in December 2017 - a limitation on movements - to help dampen the spread of the disease. The rāhui was eventually followed by Auckland Council in May 2018 voting to close tracks.

Ms Mark-Shadbolt told Newshub Māori who would like to use Māori processes like rāhui should be supported to do so.

"Māori are excluded from that system until the very end when we bear the brunt of the cost," Ms Mark-Shadbolt said.

"What we are hoping for... is a simplified and unified kauri dieback system."