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Myrtle rust now detected on mainland New Zealand

Update from Erik van Eyndhoven:

Tēnā koutou  

There has been a significant development in the current MPI/DOC response to the discovery of myrtle rust in Kermadec pohutukawa trees on Raoul Island.  I regret to advise that we have confirmed the presence of myrtle rust on mainland New Zealand for first time.

Nevertheless, we remain committed to protecting the unique Raoul Island ecosystem and managing the risks to mainland New Zealand. 

A nursery owner in Kerikeri alerted us to the infection and it was positively identified by our laboratory late last night. We have already moved to manage the risk of spread from the nursery premises by spraying with fungicide and bagging all infected material.  Work is underway to inspect surrounding properties and broader areas for the disease.  We will also conduct tracing of material that has moved to and from the nursery to identify other sites that may require inspection.  It is too soon to know if the infection is widespread or not, but we are hitting this site hard nonetheless.

This highlights the importance of the public and businesses remaining vigilant.  Remember, early detection would be vital to any attempt to control myrtle rust. Full information including pictures and a fact sheet is at: www.mpi.govt.nz/alerts

Meanwhile, we are continuing with our programme to conduct further targeted surveillance in the northern North Island and to also secure seed from all native species.

The DOC team on Raoul Island have continued their efforts to collect seed from Kermadec pohutukawa and establish monitoring sites.  The HMNZS Te Mana is en-route to Raoul Island with supplies for the team and is expected to arrive on Friday 5 May and new staff will arrive in mid-May.  

If you believe you have seen myrtle rust on plants in New Zealand, immediately call MPI on 0800 80 99 66. Do not attempt to collect samples as this may aid in the spread of the disease. 

Please feel free to share this information with anyone you feel will be interested.

Ngā mihi

Dr Erik van Eyndhoven

Liaison Manager, Myrtle Rust Raoul Island Response erik.vaneyndhoven@mpi.govt.nz or Ph. 04 8940469.  

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