Current tools 'not sufficient' to defeat kauri dieback, Govt document warns

Kauri dieback can't be overcome with the current tools and knowledge at the Government's disposal, documents obtained by Newshub under the Official Information Act warn.

Kauri dieback is a fungus-like disease that kills every kauri it infects.

Briefing papers warn "longer-term science that provides underpinning knowledge and capability is important, as the current knowledge and tools at our disposal are not sufficient to overcome kauri dieback."

The documents call for more funding for long-term science - things like resistance-breeding kauri - or we could face a failure to overcome the disease.

The briefing was prepared for Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage by officials at the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and the Department of Conservation (DoC) in preparation for a meeting with Megan Woods, the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation. 

Current research says humans are spreading the disease, with pathogens spread on people's shoes as they walk through the forest.

Cleaning stations are set up at the entrance to a number of tracks that move through kauri forests, but documents seen by Newshub say people are failing to disinfect their shoes, and the disinfectant does not kill all stages of the spoors. 

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage told Newshub the Government's committed to protecting kauri from the disease.

"We don't currently have all the answers, and more research is needed," Ms Sage told Newshub.

"Science is critical for the fight against kauri dieback, and we need that science to be prioritised and in alignment to inform investment decisions and future research.

"One of this Government's early actions was to establish the Accelerating Protection programme and a Strategic Science Advisory Group to ensure our kauri response is supported by the necessary science. Recommendations are due from the advisory group imminently so we can progress this important work," Ms Sage said.