Wellington Council: Report all myrtle rust

Central Wellington from Mount Victoria. The capital city of New Zealand.
Photo credit: ISTOCK

Wellington City Council is asking the public to be vigilant about reporting myrtle rust after the city's first case of the deadly tree fungus was found last week.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating after the fungus was discovered on a ramarama tree near the Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Highbury.

Local myrtle rust incursion was inevitable but can be better managed if Wellingtonians are vigilant about reporting suspected infections, Wellington City Council environment partnership leader Tim Park says.

"It's important people report suspected sightings of myrtle rust to MPI so we can understand and manage its spread," he said.

"We have many trees in Wellington such as pōhutukawa and rātā that could be seriously impacted by the fungus."

Zealandia has also put in place surveillance to detect myrtle rust infections.

Zealandia conservation and research manager Dr Danielle Shanahan says that myrtle rust is definitely a big concern, but in reality we still know very little about how it might affect native forests.

"We are undertaking careful surveillance in the sanctuary to ensure organisations such as MPI and DoC have the best information to map its spread, and to identify ways to look after affected species," she said.

The disease could also affect other native plants which only occur naturally in New Zealand such as bartlett's rātā and swamp maire.