Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tane Mahuta and the scattering of ashes

An interesting news item on concerns for Tane Mahuta. But TVNZ can't half twist a story! Essentially two separate issues - the scattering of cremated remains and the spread of Kauri Dieback disease - are combined yet the complexities are barely outlined. On the one hand, kaumatua are concerned that people are risking a cultural despoilment of Tane Mahuta by the remains of their loved ones being dropped on a wahi tapu, a sacred site. And LandCare scientists are worried about the ongoing effects of Phytophthora taxon Agathis (PTA) which has been connected to yellowing foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning and dead branches. Affected Kauri can bleed resin through lesions. This can extend to roots and even girdle the trunk as ‘collar rot', killing trees of all ages.

Bleeding resin.

But where and how exactly are faith and reason joining forces in this debate, given there are two different issues? The kaumatua has quite different concerns than the scientist, although both can, Lorax like, speak for the trees! The disease itself was identified in April, 2008. Its closest relative is a chestnut pathogen from Korea (Phytophthora katsurae). The assumption is that PTA is an introduced pathogen but nothing is known about this particular species overseas.

The concern for mana whenua, the people who whakapapa to the area, is that their sacred sites are being trampled on by ignorant (albeit grieving) people who are perhaps following the wishes of their loved departed ones. TVNZ seems incapable of examining what is a complex and difficult subject in anyway that credits either faith or reason.

Warning sign...

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Simon Lambert

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