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Myrtle rust found on public conservation land

28 February 2018

Myrtle rust found on public conservation land

The Department of Conservation (DOC) today confirmed myrtle rust has been found on public conservation land.

It was discovered on a ramarama plant, to the side of the Kiwi Road Track on Mt Messenger, in north Taranaki. This is the first find in a large tract of native bush.

DOC is closing the affected area, and is working with Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), local iwi and stakeholders to confirm the best approach to respond to this latest finding.

"We’re still investigating the extent of the outbreak and exploring options to contain any risk of spread,” says Phil Hancock, who is leading DOC’s response.

Since it was first discovered on mainland New Zealand in May 2017, myrtle rust has become widespread in urban areas of Taranaki, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, and parts of Auckland. However, infestations in Northland and Wellington have been limited.

The finding follows extensive surveillance and eradication activities, led by MPI and supported by DOC.

“We’ve been taking an active approach to respond to the myrtle rust threat on public conservation land,” says Phil.

“Our field staff have been focusing on surveillance operations on public conservation land in high risk areas, mainly in the North Island and upper South Island.

“We’ve also been working with local iwi to secure the long-term future of taonga species, through the collection and banking of seed,” says Phil.

The recent warm weather has been optimal for myrtle rust and, with the yellow powdery spots appearing on leaves and new plant shoots, new detections have increased in some areas.

People are encouraged to check myrtle species plants – particularly ramarama, pōhutukawa, lilly pilly, mānuka and rātā.

If you believe you’ve seen the disease, don’t touch it as this will spread the disease, take photos if possible, note the location and contact the MPI biosecurity hotline immediately on 0800 80 99 66.

MPI will continue to keep the public updated about progress in managing the threat of myrtle rust.

More information on myrtle rust can be found at http://mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/myrtle-rust


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