Strategic Science Advisory Group

The creation of the Kauri Dieback Strategic Science Advisory Group is just one approach agreed by the Kauri Dieback Programme to better protect kauri.

Made up of experts from science organisations, tangata whenua, government agencies and from overseas, the group is contributing their scientific knowledge and experience to strengthen our efforts to protect kauri.

Scientific research is a vital part of the response to kauri dieback. The advisory group is providing guidance and high-level strategic scientific advice to the programme.

The group has developed an enduring science plan that will help align kauri dieback research efforts. This work complements the focus the programme has had to date on developing operational tools to understand, detect and manage the disease.

For more information on the Strategic Science Advisory Group see their Terms of Reference (PDF 217KB) 

Photo: Plant & Food Research

Priority Areas

  • Prioritise kauri dieback disease research efforts
  • Coordinate and align current and future kauri dieback science initiatives
  • Consider emerging technologies and ideas to manage kauri dieback
  • Identify any critical knowledge gaps and ways to fill them
  • Find opportunities to learn from similar research programmes in New Zealand and overseas
  • Provide assurance kauri dieback research is fit for purpose

Science Plan

The Kauri Dieback Strategic Science Advisory Group science plan was released in December 2018.  It was developed with the help of New Zealand and international experts and thought leaders from science organisations, iwi, government agencies, and educational organisations.

Over 60 experts attended a two day workshop to identify immediate and longer term science needs. A separate webinar was also held to canvass Māori views. 

The SSAG used the outputs from the workshop and webinar to set the themes and priorities.

The draft plan was circulated to all workshop attendees and others (around 150 people) with specific interests for comment before being finalised and submitted to the Kauri Dieback Programme Governance Group.

A lot of great work has taken place to understand kauri dieback, but there is still more critical information needed. The science plan will build on existing knowledge (local and international), operational research and management and identifies short-term and long-term science needed to save kauri.

The science plan identifies six key themes and prioritises the science needed to help us better understand the disease and stop the spread. 

Theme 1: Surveillance, detection, diagnostics and pathways (Where is the pathogen, how does it spread, and how do we detect it?)

Theme 2: Biology of hosts(s) and pathogen(s) (How does the pathogen(s) interact with the host to cause disease? How does the environment influence the disease?)

Theme 3: Ecosystem impact and interactions (How does the disease impact on biodiversity, ecosystem function and health and vice versa?)

Theme 4: Te Ao Māori ( How do we ensure that Māori requirements and needs in fighting kauri dieback are met, incorporating kaupapa and mātauranga Māori?)

Theme 5: Building public/community engagement and social licence (How can people engage in, and contribute to, all aspects of the programme?)

Theme 6: Control and management (How do we manage the spread of the pathogen and impact of the disease?)

Successful implementation of the science plan relies on science organisations, iwi, government agencies, and educational organisations working together to deliver the science in the priorities identified.  It will also require actively applying successful research findings into practices as quickly as possible.


For the full details of the plan, see the Kauri Dieback Science Plan (PDF 1.1MB). 


This group was formed to provide independent, high-level advice to the Kauri Dieback Programme. They’ll provide expert advice on a range of scientific matters and by establishing an enduring science plan the advisory group aims to help with the coordination of kauri dieback research. This will include advising on the high-level strategic direction and priorities for kauri dieback science.

The advisory group is made up of around a dozen experts from science organisations, tangata whenua, government agencies and from overseas.

  • Dr John Roche, Departmental Science Adviser, MPI (Chair)
  • James Ataria, Kauri Dieback Tangata Whenua Rōpū nominee; Te Tira Whakamātaki Board Member; Senior Lecturer at the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University;
  • Lindsay Bulman, Science Leader, Forest Protection, Scion
  • Marie McEntee, Social Scientist, University of Auckland
  • Karyn Froud, Biosecurity Scientist
  • Giles Hardy, Director of the Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management, Murdoch University, Perth
  • Veronica Herrera, Director Diagnostics and Surveillance Services, MPI
  • Ken Hughey, Departmental Science Advisor, Department of Conservation
  • Danette Olsen, Manager Strategic Investments, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Haami Piripi, Kauri Dieback Tangata Whenua Rōpū nominee; Te Tira Whakamātaki Board Member; Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa, Kaitaia
  • Nick Waipara, Team Leader Epidemiology and Disease Management, Plant & Food Research; and Kaihautū for Biological Heritage National Science Challenge
  • Philippa Stevens, Group General Manager Science Services, Plant & Food Research


Find out more about the Strategic Science Advisory Group Members.