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  • Kauri dieback is a disease that is unique to kauri trees. It is caused by Phytophthora agathidicida (PA), a microorganism that spreads through soil. The word Phytophthora literally means ‘plant destroyer’ – and for kauri that contract the disease, the result is almost always fatal.

    Rights: © Crown 2017

    Connected article: Kauri dieback

    An article in the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Image: Tāne Mahuta by itravelNZ® - New Zealand in your pocket™, licensed under CC BY 2.0.
    Signs and icons by George Frost

    This Connected article provides information about the kauri dieback disease cycle and how it spreads. It also explains how mātauranga Māori and rongoā may provide insight on how to protect kauri from the deadly spores.

    Citizen science and public action

    Citizen scientists and innovative Auckland students have been helping scientists with their investigations and data collection. Visitors to Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique kauri ngahere (forests) can limit the spread of kauri dieback by using the Department of Conservation cleaning stations to remove PA spores from their shoes and by staying on tracks and boardwalks.

    Both initiatives support the science capability ‘Engage with science’ and demonstrate how individuals can help keep our ngahere healthy.

    Teacher support materials

    Check your school resource area for the article from the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next’, download it as a Google slide presentation or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2017

    2017 Connected level 4: Where to next?

    The cover of the 2017 level 4 Connected journal ‘Where to next?’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles ‘Sensing data’, ‘Turning old into new’, ‘Kauri dieback’ and ‘Global action’.

    Photograph by JMacPherson, CC-BY 2.0

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available). TSM resources include the science learning activities ‘What is happening in our own backyard?’, ‘Fighting Phytophthora’ and ‘Sharing the knowledge’ (mātauranga Māori). The activities support the science capabilities ‘Engage with science’ and ‘Gather and interpret data’. Literacy strategies support students to get the most out of the text and include important skills useful when approaching scientific vocabulary. The 'reusable content' links to Google Drive folders containing text and images from the article.

    Related content

    The article Fighting Kauri dieback provides additional information about the disease and the work of scientists Dr Stan Bellgard and Dr Ian Horner. The article houses the video Kauri Dieback: Death in the Ngahere, an episode of the television series Project Mātauranga that investigates Māori world views and methodologies within the scientific community and looks at their practical applications.

    Mātauranga Māori is a knowledge base and is different from modern science. However, the two have much in common as explained in the article Mātauranga Māori and science.

    Rongoā is the traditional Māori healing system. Rongoā is a holistic practice that often includes using the medicinal properties of New Zealand native plants.

    The article Literacy through science discusses the connections between the English and science strands in the curriculum and has ideas on how to use one to enhance the other. Scroll to the related content section at the end of the article for links to professional development webinars and other resources.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Useful links

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Please note that access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email

    Visit the Department of Conservation website to learn more about kauri forests, their history, conservation and risks.

    The website Kauri Protection has information and updates about track closures, management plans and more.

    In a world where mātauranga Māori is often still ignored and undermined, this video The fight to save kauri with mātauranga Māori from Re: News, explores how simply using it is half of the battle and how the traditional knowledge of soil is helping to rebuild the forest’s resilience to kauri dieback.

    Leading kauri dieback scientists are backing the use of mātauranga Māori in the battle to restore our kaurilands, listen to plant pathologist, Ngā Rākau Taketake Dr Nick Waipara and Soil scientist Dr Amanda Black on Newshub from January 2023.


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 19 March 2019, Updated 18 January 2023 Referencing Hub articles
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