17 May 2017

Myrtle rust found in Taranaki - MPI

1:45 pm on 17 May 2017

Myrtle rust has been found at a plant nursery in Taranaki, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says.

Myrtle rust can threaten plants including pohutukawa, manuka and feijoa trees.

Two properties in Northland have been found with the fungus. Photo: Supplied

The nursery in Waitara reported suspected symptoms of the infection yesterday and a positive resault came back today, the ministry said.

Originally from South America, myrtle rust has been killing large numbers of native trees in Australia since 2010.

It spreads by air and is thought to be a threat to New Zealand natives including pōhutukawa, rātā, mānuka and kānuka, as well as introduced species such as feijoas, guavas, gums, bottlebrush and other members of the myrtaceae family.

Two properties in Northland have already been found with the fungus.

MPI myrtle rust response incident controller David Yard said the area has been sealed off.

"There are no movements of plants or other risk materials off the site.

"We are now preparing to treat the location with fungicide and will begin the job of inspecting the area out to 500m from the infection site, Mr Yard said.

"As with Kerikeri, we'll be throwing everything at it to attempt to control it, but we are realistic that it is a huge challenge, given how readily the spores are spread by the wind."

Mr Yard says finding myrtle rust in a new region could be the sign that we will need to learn to live with this fungal plant disease.

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