By Dean Nathan
Local iwi must play their role in the biosecurity operation to deal with myrtle rust in their tribal regions. This from Ngāti Rehia who have been lobbying since the fungal disease was first found in Kerikeri and it appears their request has finally been agreed to.
Kipa Munro works for the Department of Conservation and has affiliations to Ngāti Rehia, "When the disease was first found we weren't included in the talks between the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries. So our leaders have been lobbying them on a daily basis saying, hang on, you are all here in Ngāti Rehia territory and it's only right that we play a role in this operation. And that's now been settled."
The Ministry for Primary Industries is conducting a second check of the area around the two sites in Kerikeri where myrtle rust has been found. Mike Greenstreet says, "We've looked for it once and now we're looking for it a second time so we'll go back and make sure that theres no more around. At this stage its gonna take the rest of the week to finish that so thats within the radius of the 500 metres from the original two sites."
Local iwi are also querying an official statement that the disease was carried to this district on the wind.
Kipa Munro says, "We think that it may have arrived here by other means and to say that it was brought here on the wind and deposited in only two places in close proximity to each other is very questionable. I myself don't believe that."
The Ministry for Primary Industries was unable to clarify the situation. Mike Greenstreet says, "I don't really have an explanation for that. My role is operational so I deal with the guys on the ground and looking for the surveys. I don't have the knowledge or the expertise to comment really on how it got here and that sort of thing."
Ngāti Rehia aren't alone with many other Northland tribes keen to play a lead role in dealing with the threat that myrtle rust poses in their respective territories. They're set to meet with government agencies this week to address the matter.
Kipa Munro says, "Its only right that our neighbouring tribes also have a voice on this issue because we can do the work at hapu and local level but Māori must also have a voice at the senior governance level."