Myrtle Rust: The great conqueror.

Sharyn Hoskin, a coastal gardener found out about Myrtle rust from her Dad a few weeks ago but only checked her trees this morning. “You hear about these things but you don’t take much notice, then all of a sudden it’s right here.” She estimates that approximately 10-15% of her plants belong to the affected groups.

“We’d be very sad if our Pohutukawas died and Feijoas are good food… I wouldn’t like to see them go.”

Hoskin told the Taranaki Thing that the response to Myrtle rust reminded her of the Cabbage tree virus a few years ago, “Everyone was really worried about it and there was a big response…The hype seems to have faded now, sometimes nature fights it’s way back… fingers crossed the same thing will happen with this.”

She believes MPI are doing a good job, although “It spreads on the wind, it’s going to be pretty hard to stop.”

Sharyn would be “devastated,” if her pohutukawas were infected. -Photo: Eli Hill.

Myrtle rust is the latest epidemic to hit New Zealand’s fragile Ecosystem, affecting both our native and introduced species. This week it was discovered in three sites in Taranaki: A council depot, a handful of nurseries in Waitara and on a property in Waitui. MPI are releasing daily reports on it’s spread here.

Myrtle rust on host plants. Source: MPI

Myrtle rust is native to South America, but arrived in New Zealand from  Australia. Below shows it’s spread into the pacific.

June 2010.

While it originated in South America Myrtle Rust was discovered in mid-2010 in Australia. Where its current range is limited to the east coast due to Australian preventative measures.

April-May 2017.

On the 4th of April 2017 MPI reoported that a “Serious fungal plant disease (was) found on Raoul Island trees.” In May the first reports of Myrtle rust began to emerge from KeriKeri.

To May 23 2017 (Present).

MPI have confirmed there are 16 properties infected with Myrtle rust in New Zealand. “The majority of properties are in Taranaki with just 2 confirmed in Northland and one new Waikato find.”

By Eli Hill.


Are the seeds you’ve planted killing bees?

Three days ago scientists from the university of California presented the first evidence that neonicotinoids, a commonly used pesticide here in New Zealand is impairing the ability of honey bees to fly. The report found that a “Common neonicotinoid pesticide decreases homing success in honey bees.”

Bees are a vital part of our economy and ecology

Ask someone at your dinner table if they’ve heard of neonicotinoid and they’ll probably look at you blankly.

Despite their complicated name manufacturers estimate that between 20 and 40 per cent of grass-seed sold in our country is pre-treated with neonicotinoids. The pesticide is sprayed on outsides of seeds to discourage harmful insects and birds from eating the crops, ensuring greater yields for farmers and horticulturalists.

However neonicotinoids have also been linked to the collapse of over a third of beehive numbers in the United States and between a third and half of beehives in Europe, where their use has been heavily restricted.

Maren Ricken of Kiwiseed says that their company are “Aware neonoticotoids are the number 1 reason for bees dying in the world.”

The humble honey bee has become a vital part of the New Zealand economy and ecosystem with New Zealand export earnings valued at $233 Million and beekeepers producing 12,000 tonnes of honey a year. Bees also provide pollination for a great deal of our fruit, flowers, and native plants.

The pesticide affects their flight pattern, with the bee’s sense of navigation being impaired, making bees fly greater distances to achieve the same amount of pollen collection. Instead of making a bee-line for their hive the navigationally confused bees make more of a bee-zag.

Over time, the decreased pollen collection results in the death of a hive as workers are forced to travel greater distances for the same amount of pollen. Studies have shown that neonicotinoides can remain in the ground and organic matter for years.

As in any issue where livelihoods are affected, everyone has an opinion;

Although aware of the discussion Stephen Black of Bees-R-Us Taranaki says he does not have a problem with seed coatings, “But I am aware that some NZ beekeepers suspect a problem, mainly in the Hawkes bay area.”

John McCullough, general manager of Egmont Seed Company was aware of the compound’s effects,” I am very aware of this chemical group and the potential it has to harm bees. None of the seeds used by Egmont Seeds contain Neonicotinoids.”

McCullough is also a beekeeper and a member of the Taranaki Bee Club where they regularly discuss such issues. McCullough told The Taranaki Thing he believes that New Zealand bees have a greater chance of resisting the neonicotinoids then their overseas counterparts, “Our bees have a far wider range of pollen and nectar sources to forage on, giving them a greater chance of resisting any exposure to disease or chemical.”

Charmaine Hanser used neonicotinoid-coated seeds without knowing it

Coastal farmer Charmaine Hanser had no idea what neonicotinoids were, later we found out that grass-seed she’d planted contained them. “We don’t want to do anything to hurt our bees, they’re essential for the clover that helps fix nitrogen into the soil. If I knew that (the seed was harmful) I wouldn’t use it, I don’t even spray pesticides on flowers.”

But it’s not just farmers who use them. Neonicotinoid coated seeds are often sold in garden centers. The best way to tell if the seeds you are purchasing contain the pesticide is to check whether they’ve been dyed. Manufacturers are required to dye seeds that contain neonicotinoids.


Dyed seeds contain Neonicotinoids

Seeds without dye don’t contain Neonicotinoids

Young Guns; The finale.

As the sun rose above the TET turf and yesterdays wind was non-existent tournament play was set to be a scorcher. Of the ten teams that played in this weeks Lightening Fives tournament the Young Guns ended up in eighth, defying all odds and not coming last.

The Young Guns in action. Photos; Telina Barrett.

Because Ethan Lehman arrived with about three minutes until their first game (against Te-Kiri) started Devon Darlow was elected goal keep and played for their first two games, adding strength to the defense and playing better then first time goalies that ran a marathon the day before should be able to.

Giving their supporters something to cheer for the match against Te-kiri ended with four goals scored by Ethan Lehman (2) Eli Hill and Jonathan Abplanalp. To the Te-kiri’s three. This was followed by a semi-final game against  which ended in a defeat (sadly.)

Young guns ended the day with a game against the Masters, in which Ethan got his wish and was allowed to go goalie. Sweating it out, young guns failed to capitalize on two penalty shoots one on one with the goalie but defended well and created great space up front.

When the full time hooter blew the Young Guns were exhausted but happy. They ended up in eighth place and had chilled orange juice to celebrate.



Goalie Ethan Lehman sends the ball flying.


Joe Hill challenges a Master.


Lehman on Patrol.


The Young Guns.

Young guns strike back.

The Lightening Fives were once again held from the 4th to 5th of March at Stratford’s TET turf and who was there to defend their spirit award once again?



The Young Guns were. After a fierce day in which they lost every single game and remarkably scored two goals team captain Jonathan Abplanalp tried to rouse the teams spirits by saying; “I don’t want to be captain; I don’t want to take responsibility for the loss.” His dream is to reclaim the wooden spoon. (Last place).

They expect to pick up their performance tomorrow and are making a risky decision in putting Ethan Lehman (The guy who scored their two goals) into the goalie position. They hope his intense hand-eye coordination will stop those sneaky hockey balls finding their way into the goal. As for actually scoring the buggers, they expect Devon Darlow who ran a marathon the day before to turn up and play like a pro.

For pictures and to find out how they went read tomorrows edition of The Taranaki thing.