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Assessing the risk of rapid ōhi’a death to New Zealand and the South Pacific

Rapid ‘ōhi’a death has caused widespread death of ‘ōhi’a lehua in Hawaii. Should it establish in Aotearoa New Zealand it has the potential to impact native species such as pōhutukawa and rātā, and exotic plants.


This project will deliver new knowledge to understand the biosecurity risk of the pathogens Ceratocystis lukuohia and C. huliohia, that cause rapid ‘ōhiʻa death (ROD), on native and exotic Aotearoa New Zealand plant species so biosecurity decisions can be made to maximise protection of susceptible species.


The research team will assess susceptibility on New Zealand Metrosideros species to the ROD pathogens, map climate risk, identify pathway and potential disease vectors.


The project aims to contribute to reducing the likelihood of C. lukuohia and C. huliohia being introduced into Aotearoa New Zealand. In the event of an incursion of one or both pathogens, greater biological knowledge of the pathogens could support their successful eradication. In the event of establishment of one or both pathogens, biological knowledge of hosts, pathogens and environmental factors could assist in facilitating a smooth transition from incursion response to long-term management.


The project will develop robust processes that can contribute to predicting the risk of emerging exotic pathogens to New Zealand indigenous flora, and can be applied to other potential threats.


The project acknowledges the cultural significance of native flora to Māori and emphasises exploring connections with indigenous cultures across the Pacific.


Contact Project Leader Virginia Marroni: [email protected]


Read newsletters about the project:

ROD newsletter #1

ROD newsletter #2

ROD newsletter #3