Myrtle rust has reached the East Coast of the North Island.

Locals are devastated traces of the invasive disease that decimates native plants and trees have been discovered in their region and work has already begun to try and contain the spread of myrtle rust on the coast. Currently, 600 properties on the North Island are infected, with two new reported findings of myrtle rust at Lottin Point and Te Araroa on the East Coast.

Department of Conservation’s Myrtle Rust Programme Manager Phil Hancock says local volunteers and the Gisborne staff from the Department of Conservation were on the ground when the first find of myrtle rust was discovered at Lottin Point.

“It was one of our sea collection teams actually they've been looking at the site, over time checking that the seed was ready. And this time they went to go and get the seed and discovered that the site was actually infected with myrtle rust.”

Myrtle rust is a windborne fungus. According to MPI, it is due to the isolated conditions and wild cultivation in the area that have led to the myrtle rust infection.

On Sunday Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou and locals will meet at Hinerupe Marae to discuss the issue further.