Tauranga pioneers new approach to biosecurity threats, could be implemented nationwide

Tauranga is pioneering a new approach to biosecurity as the spread of myrtle rust creates an increasing threat to its lucrative growing industry.

The launch of this collaborative strategy comes as the Government admits the invasive species of myrtle rust is spreading quicker than anticipated.

"You add those biosecurity threats, you add poor water quality loss of taonga species all of that. That's why we need to act now," said local iwi Carlton Bidois.

Iwi businesses from local and central government have come together to help educate the public on these hidden biosecurity risks on our own doorsteps.

"This is about getting a coalition of the willing, people who are absolutely passionate about biosecurity in this region to work collectively together to be an exemplar of how biosecurity can be done in this country," said Graeme Marshall from Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital.

Experts warn there are more than 40 marine pests in the Tauranga Harbour which could create potential problems in future.

This issue has become a familiar one to those in Tauranga, in 2010, a bacterial disease called psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae) ravaged the kiwifruit industry, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in the industry.

The Ministry of Primary Industries has now said myrtle rust is spreading further than they had feared, telling Kiwis to be on the lookout.

"We have the local community lead by Tauranga Moana iwi running a fantastic surveillance programme on Mauao or Mt Maunganui looking out for myrtle rust there," said John Walsh from Ministry of Primary Industries.

The Government is now praising Tauranga for leading the way with biosecurity measures, claiming that the programme could be replicated across the nation.

"Look we hope that this will be a model in places like Auckland, a lot of trade there, Lyttlelton, Dunedin and anywhere we have people or goods coming and going.

"We need to make sure that it's not just Biosecurity New Zealand, but it's each and every New Zealander looking out for unwanted pests and organisms," says Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor.

1 NEWS reporter Sam Kelway looks into whether the programme can be replicated nationwide. Source: 1 NEWS