Open Letter to the Prime Minister - We love our Kauri

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Tena koe e Jacinda,
 
Re: Funding for the implementation of the National Kauri Dieback Pest Management Plan and establishment of Kauri Dieback Management Agency.
 
We call on the Government to urgently fund the new ‘National Kauri Dieback Pest Management Plan’ (‘KDBNPMP’).  Kauri and other taonga (rata, pohutukawa, maire, rohutu, ramarama …) are part of our whakapapa.  Loss of these taonga results in the loss of our cultural identity, inter-generational connectivity, our narrative and the wellness of our Māori people.
 
The NKDPMP has been finalised after extensive consultation and your Minister has approved the NKDPMP proposal and the management agency arrangements, “subject to funding”. 
 
It is unacceptable that essential funding has not been delivered by the Government for the protection of our kauri. The governments process to “accelerate protection for kauri” has now stalled.  The decision to de-prioritise funding that manages the response to kauri dieback through the implementation of the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan is a failure of the crowns obligation under Te Tiriti and WAI262.  This operational budget is an investment in Hapū/iwi who are most effected by the extinction of this taonga, and their communities, that have taken Ministers at their word and engaged in the development of the NPMP plan.   

The Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan is first of four existing National Pest Management Plans that recognises the authority of hapū/iwi over the management of their kauri forests.  While our kauri are dying, the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan, the only national pest management plan that protects a taonga species, is completely lacking in an operational budget, signalling a lack of concern from central government.

We are alarmed at the lack of consideration and funding by this government for the care of kauri, while it commits significant budget to look after cows and the dairy industry and to a lesser degree kiwifruit.

§  In this year’s wellbeing budget, $184 million was appropriated for ‘Mycoplasma bovis’, to protect cows. 

§  In the 2017/2018 annual report, OSPRI who manage the ‘National Bovine Tuberculosis Pest Management Strategy’ which aims to eradicate bovine TB from New Zealand by 2055 from cattle and deer and possums,has had an average investment of $80 million, with future investment of $60 million pa committed to 2055.

§  With the establishment of the National Psa-V Pest Management Plan (NPMP), government invested $25 million of a $50 million commitment to protect kiwifruit.

§ In 2019, the budget investment in the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan implementation = $$NIL.
 
About the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan development.
MPI working with others has been responsible for the response to eradicate/manage the spread of ‘kauri dieback’. From the outset Māori have been reluctant Programme partners (MPI, DoC and Councils), but have engaged with Programme and independently crown agencies and local government agencies, to stop the spread of kauri dieback in our ngahere (forests) and regions.  In addition, many hapū/iwi have been working with scientists and also, have been exploring our own mātauranga Māori solutions to eradicate kauri dieback from our forests.
 
In December 2017 the Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage stated: “Kauri are a New Zealand icon and urgent and effective action is needed" when they announced "the Government will move immediately to strengthen efforts to protect kauri trees from dieback disease." They asked .."the Kauri Dieback Programme to develop a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP)in light of the continued spread of this disease, which has the potential to take kauri to the brink of extinction. An NPMP shows how serious we are about protecting kauri. It is by far the strongest piece of regulation available and will ensure mandatory hygiene practices, consistent regulations that apply nationally, stronger governance and access to funding”.
 
The Kauri Dieback Select Committee established in 2018, was a catalyst to address the inadequacies of the Programme, and to continue the intent of the previous government to develop the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan and establish an independent management agency to facilitate the implementation of the KDNPMP.   Without a committed budget, these words and the work over the last 11 years has been pointless.  It is confronting that a ‘cow’ is worth more to this government then a ‘kauri’.
 
For many of us, if the government does not have any intent on following through on its commitment to having a plan in place to manage people and the spread of the kauri dieback disease, our best option is to rahui our kauri. (close our forests).
 
We are cognisant that you have the authority to direct your Ministers and prioritise the protection of our taonga.  We call on you and your Government to address this issue and fund the implementation of the Kauri Dieback National Pest Management Plan and the establishment of the Kauri Dieback Management Agency,
 
We await your decision.

Tangata Whenua Roopu Executive

Hori Parata
Waitangi Wood
Dave Milner
Juliane Chetham
Robyn Tauroa
Tui Shortland

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