Government puts major kauri dieback plan on the backburner

Newshub can reveal the Government's put a major plan to control kauri dieback on the backburner.

Two years after it said we need a plan to tackle the disease, official documents show that plan's been stalled because the funding hasn't been signed off.

They're giants of the forest - some thousands of years old.

But some children may never see kauri forests if kauri dieback - a fatal disease with no known cure - isn't stopped.

The only way to protect trees is to stop it spreading.

"Everyone has been concerned for some time about kauri dieback and the impact on our conservation estate," says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor approved a Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan last August. It just needed funding.

But five months later, there is no sign of it. There's been some funding - but not for the full-blown response.

Campaigners say they're beyond frustrated with the stalling.

"You couldn't disappoint me any more with that. Our one point of difference with the rest of the world is our unique indigenous vegetation and this Government is standing by and watching it die every single day and not doing anything about it," says Tree Council secretary Mels Barton.

A pest management plan would unite the country's patchy response, giving the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) more compliance powers and secure funding.

But instead of funding that coordinated plan, O'Connor told Newshub the Government's decided to focus in the immediate term on front-line action.

And O'Connor has abandoned the timeline MPI was aiming for. In 2018, MPI told Newshub it was aiming for a mid-2019 implementation of the plan. Despite the delay, and the decision to focus on "front-line action", O'Connor's office says the pest management plan has not been abandoned.

"All New Zealanders, whatever of their politics would say that's an absolute tragedy for probably what is our most iconic, recognisable tree," says National leader Simon Bridges. "[It's] not good enough."

A plan that would ramp up the kauri dieback response is at the Government's fingertips - it only needs to loosen the purse strings.