The first case of myrtle rust has been found within Auckland's Waitākere Ranges.
Auckland Council said the wind-borne fungal disease, which attacks plants in the myrtle family, infected one of the country's most highly susceptible native myrtles, Lophomyrtus bullata, commonly known as ramarama.
The species is nationally threatened, and its conservation status is classified as "critical".
Councillor Richard Hills said that because the fungus is wind-borne it was not a matter of if, but when it would be found in the Waitākere Ranges.
"Despite the inevitability, this will be distressing for many of our communities who are concerned that our native taonga could be affected," Councillor Hills said.
Myrtle rust has been found across most of the North Island and upper areas of the South Island since it was first identified in 2017.
The disease can be identified by the following traits:
- Bright yellow/orange powdery patches on leaves
- Brown/grey rust pustules (older spores) on older lesions
- Leaves that are buckled or twisted and dying off
People are advised not to touch plants that may have been infected, and to report sightings here.