The recently held Myrtle Rust Science Symposium discussed solutions to battle the invasive rust disease which is attacking iconic species such as pohutukawa and ramarama, and heard how myrtle rust has wiped out species from some areas across the Tasman.

Almost 100 delegates attended the two-day symposium in Auckland, which was organised by Biosecurity New Zealand with support from the DoC and the Myrtle Rust Strategic Science Advisory Group.

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.

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.

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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 pohutukawa, manuka, and non-natives such as feijoa.

Speakers presented the findings of more than 20 research projects funded by Biosecurity New Zealand to better understand myrtle rust and limit its impact.

Reports from the public are also helping scientists track the spread of myrtle rust and discover new host species.

• Visit www.myrtlerust.org.nz to find out how to report myrtle rust.