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New Zealand symposium focused on combating myrtle rust

The audience to the recent Myrtle Rust Science Symposium heard how myrtle rust has wiped out species from some areas across the Tasman. Solutions were discussed to battle the invasive rust disease which is attacking iconic species such as pōhutukawa and ramarama.

As reported by, the event brought together scientists, central government, and representatives from groups working to combat myrtle rust on the ground, including councils, iwi, and the plant and honey sectors.

Almost 100 delegates attended the 2-day symposium in Auckland, which was organised by Biosecurity New Zealand (part of the Ministry for Primary Industries – MPI), with support from the Department of Conservation and the Myrtle Rust Strategic Science Advisory Group (SSAG).

MPI’s science policy manager Naomi Parker says science will be key to fighting myrtle rust, which is now widely distributed across key parts of the North Island and in the north and west of the South Island. The disease, which is carried on the wind, has the potential to damage many ecologically, economically, and culturally significant native tree, shrub, and vine species, including pōhutukawa, mānuka, and non-natives such as feijoa.

Dr Parker says the research reports, which will be published on the Myrtle Rust in New Zealand website over the coming weeks, were identified as priorities by the SSAG, which recently released a science plan to guide research that will be most valuable for managing myrtle rust.

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