Project Details

Project status
In progress
Research Framework
Recloaking Papatūānuku
Research Duration
Jan 2023 - Dec 2025

Project Overview

This project will support the use of mātauranga with science to enhance the resilience and survival of maire tawake in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Maire tawake or Waiwaka (Syzygium maire) is a taonga plant species that is ‘threatened-nationally critical’ due to land clearing, swamp draining, and more recently the incursion of myrtle rust.

Metagenomic sequencing will be used to provide insight into the maire tawake leaf microbial community, the contribution of the surrounding trees to the microbial community, and how this may mitigate the impacts of myrtle rust.

The whakapapa of maire tawake will be described through mātauranga, to make connections between plant species and leaf microbes to find innovative holistic disease protective solutions. Research will also be conducted in controlled environments to look at the protective effects of microbial communities against myrtle rust.

Why This Matters

The overall goal of this project is to support the use of mātauranga with science to enhance the resilience and survival of maire tawake in Aotearoa. This research will tautoko (support) the current efforts by iwi, hapū, and researchers to ensure future generations of maire tawake and other Myrtaceae taonga in the face of myrtle rust.

The long-term goal is to support conservation and restoration efforts by enabling healthy seedling development that can be planted to recloak Papatūānuku.

Project Objectives

  • Investigating if the phyllosphere microbiome of neighbouring or resistant plant hosts has a role in disease protection against myrtle rust
  • Determining if resistant plant phyllospheres can be actively or passively transferred to susceptible plant hosts for disease protection

Project Collaborators

| Plant & Food Research | Ngāti Tamaoho | Ngāruahine |

| Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa | Department of Conservation |

| Waytemore Farm Ltd | Churston Farm |


Project Team

Dr Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu

Dr Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu


Postdoctoral Fellow


Plant & Food Research