Almost 200 sites confirmed
There are currently 194 sites (properties) in the Bay of Plenty with confirmed infection of myrtle rust, mostly in the Te Puke and Bethlehem areas.
Myrtle rust is a serious fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle 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.
Tauranga Moana iwi are working with the Department of Conservation and Biosecurity New Zealand to determine the impact of myrtle rust on the host trees, seed and seedlings. Since October 2018 a site with infected ramarama trees in Tauranga has been monitored fortnightly, for research purposes.
In a recent research update by Plant & Food Research Te Puke, mana whenua were acknowledged for offering their time and expertise in the initial stages of this research, and for kindly allowing scientists to access their lands, receive plant samples, collect seed and undertake other activities critical for this research.
It is still too early to understand the full impact of myrtle rust infection but researchers are already reporting a dieback of seedlings which could over time prove the extinction of native myrtle plants.
In the meantime, our communities continue to watch over Mauao for any signs of the infection.
For more information, including a guide to identifying myrtle rust and the actions we can take, visit the Myrtle Rust website.
If you think you see symptoms, do not touch or collect samples, but take pictures and report it to Biosecurity New Zealand’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.