Myrtle rust update

Posted 2 years, 5 months ago    0 comments

Kia ora koutou,

An update from us at the Waikato District DOC office on the myrtle rust find on Karioi.

I have included a short update on the new national approach to myrtle rust announced today.


Local news

After myrtle rust was found on rata on Mount Karioi during seed collection by DOC staff as part of national response to myrtle rust, the decision was made just before Easter weekend, to close the tracks to the public and a media release and information to this effect went out to the i-Site.


A karakia was performed on Wednesday morning before surveillance work started.

Sandy Hounuku has requested a hui  to converse and answer questions about operations and surveillance.


Until now we have been  purely assessing the extent of the spread of myrtle rust on the mountain.

Two DOC myrtle rust specialists have arrived from Taranaki to help support our team in implementing our surveillance phase, Stephanie Tong and Keegan Bruckner.


Surveillance work on the Karioi track above the clearing/bush line heading towards the lookout, found ramarama growing up to 660m elevation. Everything on the seaward side from the Te Toto track to the summit appeared to be infected, up to 560m elevation.  Above  this altitude, the ramarama did not appear to be infected.


In the MPI surveyed section, below the bushline Ramarama and certain rata species were found to be infected (Metrosideros diffusa)


 The altitude is of significance as this will help us understand how high the rust can survive/spread and where we need to be investigating its effects in conservation lands. The current computer model had it at 500m altitude, so these findings will contribute significantly to understanding the reality of myrtle rust's likely spread.


On Thursday and Friday 5 & 6 April,  DOC had two teams working in Whaingaroa. Team One headed up the  Wairake track from Swan's farm to the Mt Karioi summit (756m), and Team Two surveyed Te Toto Gorge Scenic Reserve and coastal surrounds.  Neither team found any myrtle species that were infected in these areas.


National news:

The Ministry for Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation say the fight against the plant disease myrtle rust is changing gear, given the prevalence of the disease across susceptible parts of New Zealand.


Ministry for Primary Industries’ Myrtle Rust Response Spokesperson Dr Catherine Duthie says the focus of efforts now had to be placed on a science programme designed to lift our understanding around the disease such as ways to treat myrtle rust, resistance and susceptibility, and to improve seed banking collection.


“A second key focus has to be on working with communities across New Zealand to support regional efforts to combat myrtle rust. As we transition to long term management, MPI and the Department of Conservation (DOC) will be engaging with iwi and hapu, territorial authorities, the plant and nursery industries, and communities to support the development of regional programmes. This could include regional surveillance programmes, identification and protection strategies for taonga plants and special locations, advice to landowners, seed banking, and broad community engagement.”


As part of involving and informing communities at the grassroots, MPI and DOC will hold hui with iwi and councils in affected regions over the coming months.


More than 540 properties are known to have been infected by the fungal disease since it was first detected on mainland New Zealand in mid-May 2017. Since then, more than 5000 myrtle plants have been securely removed and destroyed, and more than 95,000 myrtle plants inspected.


Members of the public are encouraged to continue to report any possible cases to the Biosecurity Hotline – 0800 80 99 66.


DOC will continue to focus on seed collection to secure the long-term future of native myrtle plants and monitoring biodiversity impacts to inform science and management actions. It will also continue efforts to protect sites of high ecological and cultural significance.


Media releases:


Further information about myrtle rust:


Ngaa mihi,

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