New funding to tackle kauri dieback and myrtle rust may not be enough

The Government's announcement of new special funding to tackle kauri dieback and myrtle rust may not be enough to stop the threat of the diseases.

Funding of $8.75 million has been announced for research into stopping the spread of kauri dieback and $5 million to help stop myrtle rust infecting the likes of pōhutukawa and mānuka.

Phillip Wilcox from the University of Otago says that isn't enough, and knowledgeable academics are not being included in the conversation to tackle the diseases.

"They feel like they have got some good ideas and their track record indicate they do have good ideas and have delivered some pretty good research," he told Newshub.

"That money that's been allocated will probably seal some of the gaps but maybe not all of them, and maybe not the most important ones either."

The Chair of the Waitakere Ranges local board, Greg Presland, said more should have been done earlier.

The Auckland Council realised kauri dieback was a crisis about five years ago, but according to Mr Presland "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 said.

The outbreak of kauri dieback, which is spread by soil carried on footwear and animals, has led to the closure of hundreds of tracks.

On Tuesday, Auckland councillor Penny Hulse announced the Kitekite Falls track in west Auckland was expected to be reopened before Christmas.

Director of BioHeritage Challenge Andrea Byrom said what is needed is to know where the disease is, "how to detect it, and what to do to shut it down".

The National Science Challenge will conduct the new research over the next three years.