Myrtle Rust Strikes A King Country Nursery

New Zealand First says there is one word linking all of the Myrtle Rust discoveries in Northland, Taranaki and now King Country and it is “nursery”.

“The biosecurity ambulance at the bottom of the cliff answered the call this time, by successfully tracing infected plants to a Te Kuiti nursery,” says New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Yet doesn’t this spread by infected plants also show how Myrtle Rust could have entered New Zealand in the first place?  A disastrous breakdown in biosecurity involving whole plants, cuttings or plant tissue? 

“Mr Guy’s line that it is windborne from Australia has also shifted. To explain this fungal disease’s predilection for nurseries he says it is because nurseries have a lot of young plants with shoots, ERGO, that’s why we are discovering Mrytle Rust.

“There’s just a few problems with that theory, well a few billion problems really, and they’re the spores supposedly blowing in from Australia. The nurseries so far infected are either damned unlucky or these spores are showing a worrying surgical precision.

“There must be dozens of nurseries in the 600 kilometres between Taranaki and Kerikeri yet why has it infected only a select few?  That’s taking coincidence a bridge too far.

“Scion last year said that if Myrtle Rust was here it would likely be in some inaccessible spot until it made its appearance known, as we’re seeing in the Kermadecs.  But New Zealand’s experience is how it started in Australia with a New South Wales nursery find in April 2010.

“Seven years and one month later it was found in New Zealand.  Not in some remote stand of pohutukawa but a Kerikeri nursery,” says Mr Peters.