Ngaire Kingsbury. Image: Kauri Rescue.
Ngaire Kingsbury. Image: Kauri Rescue.

Getting phosphite kits out into the community to help people treat kauri dieback on their properties is the aim of Kauri Rescue's newest ‘super ambassador'.

Ngaire Kingsbury is Kauri Rescue’s new Waitakere phosphite treatment kit coordinator. Dubbed the project’s ‘super ambassador’ by Waitakere community liaison Dr Mels Barton, Ngaire is responsible for distributing phosphite kits to locals with kauri dieback on their property.

Kauri Rescue is a community-led social science programme developed in response to the outbreak of kauri dieback –  a disease that has killed possibly thousands of taonga (treasured) kauri trees.

While not a cure for kauri dieback, injecting kauri with phosphite is proving to be an effective treatment by providing a boost to the tree’s immunity, enabling it to fight the disease. In addition to distributing the kits, Ngaire also provides ongoing support and reassurance.

“It’s really important in these sorts of community projects that participants feel they have local support,” she says.

“While I usually don’t physically assist them to treat their trees, it’s often a huge help to just have someone from the community who has treated their own trees to talk with over the phone or via email.”

Kauri Rescue social scientist Marie McEntee says involvement of the community is pivotal to building relationships, capability and capacity.

“Ngaire’s hands-on experience in working with community and in treating trees is providing the project co-ordinating team with insights for developing a model for community engagement that can easily be replicated elsewhere,” she says.

Marie says landowners are one example of citizen scientists who are increasingly valuable contributors to science research.

“Kauri Rescue has always seen community members – or citizen scientists – as more than just scientific data collectors and has sought to collaborate with all its participants to ensure that the learning is two-way.

“Most importantly, the Kauri Rescue programme aims to build capability and capacity within its participating communities to provide more longevity to the protection of kauri.

“This means community members taking on central roles and responsibilities in the delivery of this programme – and Ngaire is just one example of the fantastic network of volunteers we have enlisted.”

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