Government commits $13.75m to fight against Kauri dieback, myrtle rust

The Government has announced a funding increase of $13.75 million over three years for research to combat the spread of kauri dieback and myrtle rust. 

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods says there's a critical need for a surge of investment in research that will generate long-term solutions to the spread of the two diseases.

The $13.75 million investment will mean scientists can begin critically important research into kauri dieback and myrtle rust, Ms Woods said.

"It is vital that we get this work underway now to ensure that we combat these two pathogens and protect these taonga species," she said.

The Biological Heritage National Science Challenge will receive the funding to undertake the research. 

"As a country we take pride in our unique species of fauna and flora, and both of these diseases are endangering some of our most iconic and culturally significant trees," Ms Woods said. 

"We recognise the importance of taking action to protect our biodiversity and ensure future generations can enjoy Aotearoa’s unique natural environment."

Myrtle Rust found in NZ
Myrtle Rust found in New Zealand. Source: Te Karere

The Government knows that addressing these challenges will require more than just three years of funding, however this funding increase allows more time to seek additional funding sources in the near future, the minister said. 

Research funding for myrtle rust will total $5 million over three years, with research for kauri dieback receiving $8.75 million. 

This is on top of previous research funding of $6.9 million for myrtle rust and $4.7 million for kauri dieback allocated in 2018/19.

“Our best researchers will continue to work with their international colleagues, with mana whenua, industry, and communities to develop new ways of reducing damage to vulnerable plants and landscapes, and future-proof them against these and other plant diseases," Ms Woods said. 

The announcement delivers on Labour's coalition agreement with New Zealand First to increase support for countering myrtle rust and kauri dieback, she said.

Urgent action is being called for over kauri dieback disease in Northland’s Waipoua Forest.
Source: 1 NEWS