Te Ngahere staff have been involved in the myrtle rust response since it was found in Northland, NZ in May 2017. We have had teams throughout the country in Northland, Waikato, Te Puke and Taranaki undertaking surveillance on a variety of native species. Our team successfully found the second infected property in NZ. Where outbreaks of myrtle rust are found, teams have been removing affected plants.
Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the Myrtaceae family. Plants in this family include the iconic pōhutukawa, mānuka and rātā as well as some common garden plants such as ramarama and lilly pilly. It is found in many parts of the world including New Caledonia and all along Australia's eastern seaboard. The spores of myrtle rust are microscopic and easily dispersed by wind, or via insects, birds, people, or machinery.
Severe infestations can kill affected plants and have long-term impacts on the regeneration of young plants and seedlings. It is not yet known how this disease will affect New Zealand species. Overseas its impacts have varied widely from country to country and plant species to species.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are leading the response to myrtle rust and working closely with the Department of Conservation (DOC). AsureQuality are leading the operations. They have been running a large operation to determine the scale of the situation and attempt to contain and control myrtle rust in the areas it has been found. You can find out more about the response at MPI myrtle rust response.
Our staff have been travelling away week in week out since the beginning of May. They have been working closely with MPI and AsureQuality building up a good rapport with local staff and landowners, trying to locate and contain myrtle rust infections.