Myrtle rust fungus confirmed in Bay of Plenty

Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

Laboratory tests by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have confirmed that the plant fungus myrtle rust is present in Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty.

The infection has been found in a 25-year-old ramarama plant in a private residential garden. It is the first find in a number of weeks outside of the key infection area in Taranaki.-

Myrtle rust response Incident Controller David Yard says the new find is very disappointing.

"We had thought that the incursion could be contained to the small geographical area around Waitara. While it's too early to say what the new detection will mean in terms of the ongoing operation, it's certainly not good news in terms of its distribution in New Zealand."

Mr Yard says the property concerned has been placed under controls so that any movement of plant material or other risk goods from the property is stopped.

MPI has a team removing the affected plant, spraying the area with fungicide and doing a thorough check of the garden.

"The team will also begin a concentrated survey of vegetation surrounding the find.

"Our preliminary talks with the property owner have not found any obvious link with the situation in Taranaki or Northland, and there have been no recent nursery plant introductions to the garden. This lends weight to the possibility that this new location is a wind-borne infection."

Mr Yard says the Te Puke home owner is to be congratulated for being responsive and contacting MPI when she saw suspicious symptoms on her tree.

"The public response to myrtle rust has been huge and gratifying. So far we've had 822 calls reporting suspected myrtle rust. It's vital information. Building our knowledge of this issue and the distribution of the disease will enable us to make the best possible decisions about managing this into the future."

To date there are 46 known infected properties in New Zealand - 4 in Northland, 2 in Waikato, 39 in Taranaki and the 1 new find in Bay of Plenty.

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