Myrtle Rust In Taranaki … In A Nursery… What are the Odds Of That?

New Zealand First says the discovery of myrtle rust in a Taranaki nursery, after being first confirmed in a Kerikeri nursery, is now a case of once bitten, twice shy.

“Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy may not be the sharpest knife in Prime Minister Bill English’s Cabinet, but the astronomical odds of two nurseries reporting myrtle rust 600 kilometres apart must strike him as no coincidence,” says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Either that or we’ve got the world’s first case of Nurserypuccinia psidii– a complete new family of myrtle rust spores which only infect nurseries.

“Or more likely, this is a catastrophic failure of biosecurity that’s blown Mr Guy’s narrative sky high.

“In 2010, a briefing on myrtle rust from the Crown Research Institute Scion put the risk of it coming here from Australia on the wind as low, but not zero.  Scion said it was more likely that spores would enter New Zealand on clothing or footwear; deliberately; or we consider the more likely, on imported plant material. 

“Even Mr Guy’s own Ministry in 2011 rated imported plant material as ‘moderate to high risk’ so it is about time Mr Guy looks at incompetent biosecurity instead of whistling in the breeze,” says Mr Peters.