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The fight to save our forests

Published: 19 September 2018
  • Browning of leaves caused by myrtle rust.
  • Aerial view of an infected kauri

Pathogens with microscopic spores too small to see are causing havoc among our native trees.

The latest to arrive on the scene is myrtle rust, a fungus that thrives on the leaves of many of our native plants.

Myrtle rust attacks leaves, starving plants of food until they die. With a special fondness for ramarama, pohutukawa, feijoa, kanuka, manuka and rata, the fungus puts many of our native species under threat.

The other pathogen causing damage to our forests is kauri dieback, and several of our region's kauri forests are infected. Spread by the smallest speck of soil from the boots of trampers, leisure walkers and animal hooves, the disease infects the roots of giant kauri trees, starving them of nutrients.

Both of these harmful pathogens love warmth, and with the summer season on the horizon we all have a part to play through responsible behaviour to keep our native trees safe.

What you can do to help control kauri dieback:

  • Scrub and spray footwear both in and out of tracks
  • Stay only on open tracks
  • If walking an open track, always keep dogs on a leash
  • Find alternative places to walk
  • Respect the rahui and stay out of the forested areas of the Waitakere Ranges
  • For more information, visit

We’re doing our part with continued track upgrades, additional cleaning stations for kauri and further education thanks to the new Natural Environment Targeted Rate.

What you can do to help control myrtle rust:

  • Clean tools with methylated spirits after pruning
  • Limit pruning myrtles to autumn and early winter so new growth has time to harden off and become more resilient
  • Dispose of infected material responsibly (wrap in plastic and take to a landfill, bury deeper than 50cm, or wrap in plastic and leave in the sun for 6-8 weeks to kill the spores before composting)
  • If you live near pohutukawa or rata, consider replacing hybrid ramarama and monkey apple hedges in your garden as these quickly become highly infected. Your local garden centre will be able to advise you on a suitable fast-growing non-myrtle replacement, such as pittosporum
  • If you see myrtle rust in a Regional Park or street tree, report it to a ranger by calling 301 0101 or MPI on 0800 809966

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