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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.

    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’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 library 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.

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from TKI (Word and PDF files available, look for icons below the article abstract). 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 icon 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.

    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 orders@thechair.minedu.govt.nz.

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

    The website Keep kauri standing has information and updates about track closures, management plans and more.

      Published 19 March 2019 Referencing Hub articles