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Myrtle rust found in Porirua

10 May 2017

Myrtle rust has been identified in Porirua.

A row of ramarama shrubs on Parumoana St, opposite Pak ‘N Save, has been inflicted with the disease, which has hit many regions in New Zealand since being first identified this time last year.

The rusty-looking fungus attacks plants in the myrtle family, including species such as pohutukawa, manuka, rata and eucalyptus. It is usually spread by the wind.

Nearly 600 properties, including nurseries, parks and gardens, have been infected across the country.

Porirua City Council Parks Manager Olivia Dovey says vigilance is needed by Council parks staff, and the public, to ensure myrtle rust doesn’t attack more trees and plants in Porirua.

“It seemed just a matter of time before it got here – now it has and we’re dealing with it,” she said.

“We’ll take each discovery of myrtle rust on a case-by-case basis.

“These species are usually very hardy, they’re our winners, so it’s now up to us to be extra watchful for myrtle rust and act quickly when it’s found.”

The government has said it is impossible to stop the disease, so now it is important MPI and local authorities manage it, Ms Dovey said.

The removal of the ramarama in Parumoana St will take place on Wednesday and involve Council parks staff double-sealing the infected bushes in sacks and then sterilizing and washing all their clothing.

The area will be returned to grass.

If anyone notices myrtle rust on their property they should call MPI on 0800 80 99 66 or if they notice it in a park or reserve contact the Council on 237 5089.

To learn more about myrtle rust visit mpi.govt.nz/myrtle rust.

Myrtle rust facts:
- Austropuccinia psidii was first detected in Brazil in the 1970s, and has been in Australia since 2010. Initially called eucalypt rust because it infected plantations of eucalypts
- Is a rusty-looking fungus and can infect an entire family. If conditions are right it can reproduce in as little as two to four weeks
- Young leaves are particularly vulnerable and there are a number of different strains – the one in NZ is the pandemic strain, which is widespread around much of the world
- First detected on Raoul Island, 1000km north of NZ, last March, and then on the NZ mainland in May, in a Kerikeri nursery
- Now reported to have infected more than 580 properties, including nurseries, parks and gardens. It has been confirmed in 10 regions, most in the North Island, as well as Tasman
- More than 5000 myrtle plants have been removed and destroyed in NZ so far
- Symptoms: bright yellow/orange powdery patches on leaves, leaves that are buckled, twisted and dying off
- If you find it: don’t touch it, call MPI on 0800 80 99 66, note the location and take photos, wash clothes, shoes/boots that may have come into contact with it


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