October 2018 Myrtle Rust Update

October 31, 2018

In this update you will find:

  • Detections in the last month 
  • Identifying myrtles and myrtle rust  
  • Department of Conservation decision on bee movements 

Detections in the last month

The total number of infected properties reported since the start of the response is 784.

New finds since last update by town/city/suburb – 8 new sites:

  • Northland: Kaiwaka (1)
  • Auckland: Matakana (1), Sunny Hills (1), Greenlane (1), Onehunga (1), Viaduct    Basin (1), Saint Heliers (1) 
  • Taranaki: Oakura (1)

Property type:

Private (629), public land (68), commercial (45), school (16), nursery (13), public conservation land (5), retailer (2), golf course (2), orchard (2), depot (1), cemetery (1).

Identifying myrtles and myrtle rust 

Myrtles, are a type of evergreen tree or shrub common to New Zealand. These include native plants such as pōhutukawa, mānuka, kānuka, ramarama, rātā, and exotic plants like feijoa, eucalypts, bottlebrush, guavas, willow myrtle and lilly pilly (also known as monkey apple). They can be very hard to identify. 

We've put together a handy ID guide that shows photos of the most common myrtles in New Zealand. You can use this to identify whether you have a myrtle in your backyard or along your walking track and then monitor the plant for myrtle rust. 

Some other handy resources include: 

DOC to restrict beehive movement on public conservation land 

DOC is putting immediate restrictions on all beehive movements in specific areas on Public Conservation Land (PCL) in a bid to contain the spread of the fungal disease myrtle rust. The decision comes after research from Plant and Food indicates bees may be a vector for the spread of myrtle rust, which can damage and kill some plants in the myrtle family.

DOC’s Director for Permissions Planning and Land, Marie Long, says DOC is concerned about the potential for honeybees to spread myrtle rust to unaffected areas of conservation land, so has restricted the movement of beehives.

“Myrtle rust is a threat to plants such as mānuka, kānuka, rātā and pōhutukawa. These plants are vital for healthy ecosystems, but also the beekeeping industry.”

Beehive concessionaires have been informed that:

  • Beehives cannot be moved from the North Island and placed on PCL sites in the South Island.
  • Beehives cannot be moved from the Operational Districts of New Plymouth, King Country, Waikato, Hauraki, Tauranga and Auckland and placed on PCL sites in the Operational Region of Northern North Island.
  • Beehives cannot be moved from the Operational Districts of Golden Bay, Motueka, Sounds and Marlborough South and placed on PCL sites in other Operational Districts in the North Island or South Island.
  • Beehives cannot be moved from outside the Te Paki Ecological District and placed on PCL sites in the Te Paki Ecological District.

DOC is also advocating for more research into myrtle rust and bees to increase the knowledge around the role honeybees play in transferring the fungal disease.