North Island screened for deadly tree disease

Biosecurity teams are being dispatched to check for signs of a deadly tree disease at a staggering 800 sites across the North Island.

Pohutakawa, Feijoa, Manuka and other native trees are under threat from Myrtle Rust which has made its way over from Australia.

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry says the Ministry of Primary Industries and the Department of Conservation are "throwing everything [they've] got at this".

Myrtle Rust is aptly named, the fungal disease causes rust coloured lesions which can kill infected plants and trees.

The disease poses a threat to New Zealand's $300m manuka honey industry.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says it's a real concern.

"[The] manuka industry is very important to New Zealand, it creates a lot of jobs."

The MPI has been preparing for the arrival of Myrtle Rust, which Mr Guy sys they saw coming.

"We always knew it was just a matter of time until it arrived here. Australia has had it since 2010, so for the past seven years we've been operating on heightened awareness."

The outlook is bleak, though. Myrtle Rust is notoriously difficult to control and internationally there has never been a successful eradication of the fungus.

The advice is if you spot it, don't touch it but take a photo and immediately contact MPI.