Myrtle rust has now been confirmed in Waikato nursery

A positive detection of myrtle rust has been made in the Waikato region, the Ministry for Primary Industries announced this afternoon.

The fungal plant disease was identified in a small number of plants at a nursery in Te Kuiti. The new location was found as a result of MPI tracing sales of plants from another positive nursery.

MPI has personnel on the ground in Te Kuiti and restrictions have been imposed on the movement of risk goods from the property.

The property will be treated with fungicide.

As with all other finds to date, MPI will continue to search surrounding areas for signs of the fungus.

The new find, along with confirmations on a further three properties in Taranaki, brings the total number of confirmed infected properties to 16 nationally.

Most of the properties are in Taranaki, along with two confirmed in Northland and the latest one in Waikato.

The disease-causing fungus has been found at a mix of properties including nurseries, plant retailers and distributors, an orchard and private gardens.

MPI is receiving unprecedented support from members of the public, with some 420 reports of suspected symptoms to its 0800 number.

Of those reports, a small percentage require sampling and testing. The Ministry is able to distinguish the highest risk reports from photographs.

Myrtle rust only affects plants in the myrtle family. Any rust symptoms on other plants can immediately be discounted.

The ministry has thanked people for their vigilance. Their reports are helping to build a picture of where the rust is present and inform plans being made for the future management of the fungus.

The ministry continues its effort to try to contain the rust at infected properties, but is also realistic that this is a huge challenge and New Zealanders may have to learn to live with it.

People can report suspected signs of myrtle rust to MPI’s Exotic Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

The public are urged not to touch the rust or the plant. The location should be noted and photos taken of the symptoms and the plant.

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