Another opportunistic money grab under the Treaty

Rahui being placed on kauri trees at Waitakere Photo credit RNZ / Sally

Kauri trees from Auckland to Kawhia have been dying from kauri dieback for at least the last 70 years but it was only in 2008 that the Kauri Dieback Programme was set up to study and counter the disease.

In the last 10 years, we have identified the pathogen that causes kauri dieback but experts still don’t know how to find it before it manifests, how to kill it, or what other plants it affects.

After 10 years, MPI says it is still difficult to accurately test for the pathogen. They admit their testing is not always effective, making the disease almost impossible to detect.

MPI is committed to protecting the environment and has invested in field trials to try to identify other plants that may be affected. They believe it is impossible to totally eradicate the pathogen from a kauri forest and would like to do further work but they don’t have enough funding to do everything they would like.  Quote.

Last December, Auckland Iwi Te Kawerau ā Maki placed a rāhui on the entire forested area of the Waitakere ranges and they say this was done because nothing else was being done.”  End of quote.

Wrong, there is plenty that is being done about kauri dieback, the fact is, this disease has proved very difficult to detect and impossible to stop it eventually killing the tree. Quote.

The number of infected kauri in the Waitākere Ranges doubled in the five years between 2011 and 2016, from one-in-10 trees to one-in-five.” End of quote.

In May the Auckland City Council introduced boot cleaning stations into the Waitakere ranges but they report that compliance has been very patchy.

The Ministry of Primary Industries is disappointed that some people refuse to use the stations and want to introduce a fine system to force compliance.

But Mel Barton from the Tree Council disputes the effectiveness of the chemical used in the boot cleaning stations, saying it does not kill all the sporesQuote.

If your boots are not clean enough to lick, they are not clean enough.” End of quote.

The truth is, not enough is known about the disease to effectively combat it.  Barton thinks it hides in pine forests and pasture without showing signs of the disease.

In 2015 Te Kawerau ā Maki received a settlement under the Treaty of Waitangi (Treaty) for past grievances. As part of the settlement the Crown committed to a new relationship…based on “mutual trust, co-operation and respect for the Treaty of Waitangi and it’s principles”.

Te Kawerau ā Maki says it will make another claim under the Treaty because the Crown has not kept their side of the bargain. They say the Crown failed to protect the kauri trees in Auckland and by extension the Iwi. Executive manager Edward Ashby said: Quote.

Waitākere Forest is very strongly linked to the well-being and identity of Te Kawerau ā Maki so if this forest goes, everything about Te Kawerau goes with it,” says executive manager Edward Ashby.

In 2015, the iwi settled its Treaty claim for grievances prior to 1992. As part of that settlement, the Crown committed to a “new relationship” based on “mutual trust, co-operation and respect for the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles”.

Mr Ashby told Newshub Nation this hasn’t happened.”

The [Crown] speed of response has been too slow, basic questions are unanswered and we’ve not been engaged throughout the entire process”. End of quote.

This is an out and out money grab.

How can the whole Waitakere forest be threatened by kauri die back when the experts haven’t finished their work on which trees are vulnerable and which are resistant?

What basic questions did Iwi ask which were not answered because MPI admits it doesn’t have the answers to its own basic questions?

My final point on the duplicity of the Iwi is that they have to shoulder some of the blame themselves because Te Kawerau ā Maki are listed as participants on the kauri dieback website. Quote.

At the start of the programme the Tangata Whenua Roopu (TWR) was established to engage with all Maori who have an interest in kauri dieback disease. TWR elect two representatives for the programme governance group.

In addition, Te Roroa in their role as kaitiaki over Waipoua forest (home of Tāne Mahuta and other iconic kauri) have one representative on the programme governance group.

The programme engages with Māori through TWR, DOC and councils, as well as with Te Kawerau ā Maki who have special relationships with a number of areas in the wider Auckland region.” End of quote.

If the Iwi is so concerned about kauri die back but neglected to liaise with council or MPI over the last 10 years whose fault is that? Are they children who constantly need to be pointed in the right direction to act responsibly?

They are behaving like spoilt children who expect someone else to wave a magic wand to eradicate the disease and if the magic wand doesn’t work someone must pay for their loss.  That someone is the taxpayer.

If the Waitangi Tribunal had any sense at all it would throw Te Kawerau ā Maki’s claim out, but as the Tribunal is better known for pandering to Maori this is quite unlikely.

Assuming the Iwi is successful in its claim, what would they do with their money grab? Invest it into more research on kauri dieback? Give it back to MPI who need more money to continue their work, or none of the above?


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