Labour says it would spend $20 million over the next 10
years to stop the spread of Kauri dieback disease.
"We are facing an ecological disaster with over 11 per cent
of the Kauri trees in the Waitakere Ranges infected and
thousands of trees killed by the disease," Labour leader
David Cunliffe said today.
Kauri dieback was discovered in the Whangapoua forest in the
Coromandel last month and it is prevalent in the forests of
Northland, and Great Barrier Island.
"Unless we act to stop its spread, this iconic New Zealand
species could be wiped out," Mr Cunliffe said.
Labour's pledge of $20 million, supported by funding from
councils and other sources, would allow a programme of around
$30 million to extend measures to Northland and the Waikato,"
Mr Cunliffe said.
Kauri dieback disease was last month discovered in the
Coromandel - a development that was described as "serious
blow" to efforts to protect the species.
Test results have shown the presence of Phytophthora taxon
Agathis (PTA) or Kauri dieback disease in the Whangapoua
Forest, just north of Whitianga - the first confirmed case in
Until now, the soil-borne disease has been limited to
Northland, the Waitakere Ranges and on Great Barrier Island.
Kauri dieback disease is caused by a microscopic, fungus-like
organism which infects the trees' roots and damages the
tissues that carry nutrients and water within the tree,
effectively starving the tree to death.
Nearly all infected trees die and there is no known cure,
though research is currently underway.
The Government has been criticised for a lack of support and
funding commitment in fighting kauri dieback disease. Last
year four regional councils made a plea to Primary Industries
Minister Nathan Guy for more funding.
MPI has funded 80 per cent of a $5.5 million five-year
programme to control the killer disease.
Conservation Minister Nick Smith has dismissed the
Labour pledge, saying he made it clear last month that the
Government would be increasing funding in this year's Budget
for controlling kauri dieback.
Labour's pledge now was late and lazy, Dr Smith said.
"Mr Cunliffe's call today is hypocritical given he sat in the
Cabinet room in 2007 and 2008 when the then-Labour Government
declined requests by the Auckland Council for funding to
control the disease," he said.
"This Government provided funding of $4.7 million in our 2009
Budget for a period of five years, which runs until June this
''In 2013, the kauri dieback programme Keep Kauri Standing
was independently reviewed. Following this review the
Minister for Primary Industries and I lodged a Budget bid for
new and additional funding last November and last month I
confirmed that this additional funding would be forthcoming.
The details of this will be announced in Budget 2014 on 15