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  6 May 2017

Pest Alert - NZPPI update
Myrtle Rust detected in Kerikeri

If you think you have seen this fungus call MPI’s Exotic Pests and Diseases hotline - 0800 80 99 66.
Take a photo - do not attempt to touch or collect samples as this may increase the spread of this disease

Situation update

No infections beyond the one at the Kerikeri Plant Production’s nursery (the initial site) have been detected.

MPI, DOC, iwi, industry partners and the local council are working on a range of field activities to determine the scale of the infection, including:

  • Surveillance at the nursery.
  • A survey working out from the nursery in a methodical manner, searching myrtle species trees in the wider area for signs of the disease.
  • Contacting nurseries and garden centres in the area.
  • Checking for signs of myrtle rust at some 800 high-risk surveillance sites across the upper North Island, including 300 sites in Northland.
  • Targeted searches of myrtle species across conservation land.

Kerikeri Plant Production’s nursery site is under biosecurity controls and restrictions are in place on the movement of plants and people on and off the property.

We applaud the owner for his quick notification to MPI of his suspicions on Tuesday. He did the right thing and has the full support of the industry.

Read MPI updates in full on the NZPPI website -

NZPPI in Kerikeri

Andrew Harrison and Malcolm Woolmore spent the day in Kerikeri yesterday to support industry members affected by the Myrtle rust incursion.

They met with Minister’s Nathan Guy and Maggie Barry, along with MPI officials, to observe what is happening on the ground and offer NZPPI support to further assist the response.

Andrew is on the Response Leadership Team representing NZPPI, and Malcolm is on the Technical Advisory Group that provides science and technical advice the response is based on.

The visit yesterday included time with Tom and Julia of Kerikeri Plant Production. Andrew and Malcolm have said that it was great to see the level of commitment to the response firsthand.

"Both Minister’s fronted up to personally thank Tom and Julia, and their team member who made the initial discovery, and give them reassurance the Government will do right by them.

"MPI offered to immediately transition their staff to assist the response with the big surveillance effort underway, and cover their costs - something Malcolm had suggested.

"We acknowledged that MPI and Government have the full support of NZPPI, and we passed on sentiments from those attending the Plant Production Science & Innovation Summit - where the incursion was announced. There has been an outpouring of support and recognition that it could have been any of us.

"Everyone acknowledges that Tom and Julia have done exactly the right thing for the good of the country. After Minister’s left we had a cup of tea with both of them and talked through how it was going, how they’re doing, what they can expect from here, and what they can do from now on to be as prepared as possible.

"It’s a stressful situation for sure, but they were in remarkable spirits and handling it well. Tom and Julia provided a photo of the myrtle rust on their pohutakawa plants (below), and asked this be shared with other plant producers so we can all see what it actually looks like on the mainland pohutukawa and know what to look out for.

"They know our lines are open at NZPPI and they’ll need and deserve wide support from their community – so please don’t be shy in offering that to them."

Andrew and Malcolm also met with as many NZPPI members in Kerikeri as they could – a very big day and regrettably they couldn’t quite make it to everyone.

"Plant producers and garden retailers have picked up the call and are searching their plants looking for any signs of myrtle rust. We’ve encouraged them to immediately isolate any stock either received from Kerikeri Plant Production or that looks suspicious, cover it if possible, and wait for MPI before treating these plants.

"They should then put in place a spray programme using an MPI recommended fungicide effective against myrtle rust. As a precaution, all young Myrtaceae plants leaving nurseries from Northland should be treated immediately prior to dispatch."

A protocol and recommendations that cover this are provided below.

Site surveillance and preventative protocol

Inspect your stock - Plant producers, nurseries and garden centres are strongly urged to immediately inspect all their stock and nearby vegetation, especially varieties in the Myrtaceae family. Prominent among these are Pohutukawa, Rata, Manuka, Kunzea, Lophomyrtus, Feijoa, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Syzygium and Guava. We have photos on the NZPPI website -, as well as a guide to how you should undertake your inspection.

Those in the Northland region should not ship or sell plants until they have undertaken an inspection, and all young Myrtaceae plants leaving nurseries from Northland should be treated immediately prior to dispatch.

Businesses that have received plants from Northland nurseries over the past month should inspect those plants. If you find anything that raises concern, do not attempt to touch or collect samples as this may increase the spread of this disease, take photos, and if possible isolate the plants with an igloo-hoop-like plastic cover, taking care not to contaminate clothing or tools. Upon completion, call MPI.

If you find anything suspicious, call MPI’s exotic pests and diseases hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

After inspection - If you find nothing that raises suspicion, a preventative fungicide application may be applied to plant stock. MPI have provided advice that several fungicides are suitable:

  • Nordox 75 WG.
  • Agcopp 75.
  • Vandia 250 EC.
  • Agpro Jupiter.

NZPPI has guidance and a protocol for Myrtaceae crop management and fungicide use.

What to look out for

Myrtle rust attacks young, soft, actively growing leaves, shoots and young stems, and sometimes flowers and fruit. Initial symptoms are powdery, bright yellow or orange-yellow pustules on leaves, tips and stems. The developing lesions may cause a deformation of the leaves and shoots, and twig dieback and plant death if the infection is severe and the species highly susceptible.

Look for:

  • bright yellow powdery eruptions appearing on the underside of the leaf (young infection)
  • bright yellow powdery eruptions on both sides of the leaf (mature infection)
  • brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) can appear on older lesions
  • leaves may become buckled or twisted and die off

Rusts of this type are rare on many native species - any sighting should raise suspicion.

What to do if you find it

If you think you may have found myrtle rust on any of your plants:

  • Do not move any plants from your site
  • Take a photo - do not attempt to touch or collect samples as this may increase the spread of this disease
  • Immediately phone the MPI exotic pest and disease hotline on 0800 80 99 66

NZPPI's here to help

NZPPI, on behalf of all members, is working closely with MPI and will do all we can to help manage this serious threat.

We’ll update our Myrtle Rust webpage and let people know as things come to hand. In the meantime, if you need help, please contact John Liddle at or phone 021 370 168.

More detail at:


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New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
PO Box 3443, Wellington 6140
Level 5, 23 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington
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