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.”

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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Paint The Town Green.

Author, blogger, citizen activist and proud Grandmother Stuart Bramhall wants the world her grandchildren grow up in to be safe and sustainable. That’s why she’s standing as the Green party’s candidate in this year’s election.

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Dr Bramhall, Taranaki’s Green party candidate. Photo:Eli Hill.

I meet Doctor Bramhall in a small cafe; Piet Paris. She has a steaming tea in front of her and greets me warmly as we chat about her books, the cafe and particularly family which has become a focus for her;

“In a few weeks I’m flying over to the states to meet my Grandson,” she smiles, “I’m a proud Grandmother. I want the world that my grandchildren grow up in to be well looked after.”

But the moment our interview starts she’s all business, the environmentally friendly cogs in her head whirring as I get away my first question:  Dairy and Oil are Taranaki’s two biggest exports, what will the green party do to transition these areas?

She nods slightly, “The Green party is advocating for something called a smart, green economy. Dairy is a commodity and so is oil and gas and that’s one reason why New Zealand is so poor; because we’re only exporting raw commodities. Every time the milk price drops the New Zealand economy takes a big hit.”

“We (The Green Party) want to have an economy that’s based on value added products. Ideas, technology, renewable energy technology. There are some New Zealand companies at the forefront of innovation; …Xero and Lumio are two.”

“Because we’re only exporting raw commodities. Every time the milk price drops the New Zealand economy takes a big hit.” -Stuart Bramhall.

She sips at her tea, prepares for another question.

Currently Taranaki has two gas operated power stations, Stratford power station and McKee. What will they be replaced with should your party come to power? (excuse the pun)

“Taranaki is well primed for a wind-farm, there is some really promising developments with saltwater batteries, so solar is also viable. We’re also looking into wave energy and mini hydro, we don’t support any more large-scale damming.”

Bramhall believes that the Green’s goal of 100% renewable by 2030 is absolutely realistic. “At present the Government subsidises fracking… The reality is that renewable is cheaper in the long run.”

Solar and Wind. -The reality is renewable is cheaper in the long run.

It’s clear to see that Doctor Bramhall has thought a great deal about her party’s policies, she even disagrees with a few of them; “The party’s policies on water fluoridation and 1080 won’t work for Taranaki. Those are very important issues in Taranaki. You can’t stand as a candidate and support those two issues.”

While the Green party believes 1080 should be used as a last resort and that fluoridation should be up to individual districts Dr Bramhall is in opposition to either being used in New Zealand.

She also feels that the Green party has been drawing itself too close to the Labour party, “I think when they signed the memorandum of understanding a lot of people were confused, they think they can vote for Labour and it won’t matter… Unless Green get a number of ministers in Parliament a Labour government will do nothing to protect the waterways and environment.”

“When campaigning we found a lot of people that were very disenchanted with national and labour, but because we were too tight with Labour they didn’t vote for us. The vote went to NZ first.”

If you live in New Plymouth you can expect to see her about, “We’re trying to develop language that’s move understandable to the provinces and I’ll be organising plenty of doorknocking.”

Dr Bramhall comes across as a person with principles who’s representing the Green party not because she’s interested in building a political profile or indulging in a chance to express party views but because she believes the choices we make today will affect our grandchildren’s tomorrow.

She believes the choices we make today will affect our grandchildren’s tomorrow.

By the time her Tea has cooled and our interview is finished there are only two questions left unanswered;

Will she earn your vote?

Will Taranaki be painted Green in the upcoming election?

Comment your thoughts below.