Public urged to remain vigilant as myrtle rust confirmed in 52 properties nationwide

By Leo Horgan

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has provided an update on the spread of myrtle rust, a devastating plant fungus which can affect Pōhutukawa and Mānuka trees.

The fungus was first detected at a Northland nursery in early May 2017.  

The total number of properties infected with myrtle rust is now 52 nationally.

• 39 in Taranaki.

• 4 in Northland.

• 7 in Bay of Plenty.

• 2 in Waikato.

MPI Incident Controller David Yard says there has been no significant change to the spread of myrtle rust, but work continues to control the fungus.

“The affected properties include both residences and commercial premises such as nurseries.  We will continue to work closely with the Department of the Conservation (DOC) to control the spread of myrtle rust and remain vigilant for any signs of further infections.

“We’re also working with Te Puni Kōkiri and DOC to ensure that local iwi are kept informed and are involved whereever possible.”

MPI thanks the public for their cooperation with the operation.

“The response from the public has been excellent, and we’ve received hundreds of calls to report suspected myrtle rust. We’d encourage people to keep on the lookout, and not to hesitate in getting in touch if you do see something that could be myrtle rust.”

If you believe you have seen signs of myrtle rust:

• Do not touch it or the plant

• Take a photo of the rust and the plant

• Call MPI's Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.