Pukenui Western Hills Forest Charitable Trust


The area known as Pukenui Forest, or Western Hills, is a dominant feature and treasure of the people and city of Whangarei. The eastern fringes of the forest are bounded by the edge of the city itself - from Maunu in the South to Western Hills Drive and Kamo in the North.

The forested region includes the land parcels of:

  • Whau Valley Water Catchment (865 hectares)
  • Pukenui Forest (592 hectares)
  • Coronation Scenic Reserve (102 hectares)
  • Barge Showgrounds (64.6 hectares)
  • Maunu Scenic Reserve (38.7 hectares)
  • Whangarei Quarry Gardens (24.2 hectares)
  • and a number of smaller reserves and parks

View from walking track

The region has been colloquially referred to as "the lungs of the city" (Whangarei) and contains areas of high conservation value, historic and cultural sites and a range of recreational opportunities.

It is a relatively large area of native (temperate) lowland broadleaf forest, a type of habitat now rare in New Zealand. It is known to contain a number of threatened species, including long-tailed bat, North Island brown kiwi and New Zealand wood pigeon.

The area also contains sites of importance to Maori and Europeans, including the Kauika Pa site, Pa of Te Parawhau and remnants of former logging and quarrying activities.

The region is also an important source of high-quality water for the residents of Whangarei, with the Whau Valley Water Catchment supplying 50 - 60% of the water to the City Water Supply Area.

Myrtle rust fungus in Bay of Islands

Key Messages:

  • The damaging plant fungus myrtle rust has been found for the first time in mainland New Zealand.
  • Urgent actions are underway to understand the situation and what we need to do.
  • The nursery where the disease was found has been locked down.
  • If people believe they’ve seen signs of myrtle rust - do not touch it. Take a photo if possible. Phone MPI on 0800 80 99 66 immediately.

Full background messages:

  • The fungal disease myrtle rust has been found for the first time in mainland New Zealand on plants at a nursery in Kerikeri, Northland.
  • The nursery owner reported suspicious symptoms on plants to MPI on the evening of Tuesday 2 May 2017 and a positive identification was made late night on Wednesday 3 May 2017.
  • MPI was already working with iwi, the Department of Conservation and other partners including industry and councils in response to the discovery of the disease on Raoul Island in the Kermadecs north of New Zealand in March.
  • An urgent biosecurity response has been mounted and operational staff are in the field in Northland. There are expected to be up to 20 staff in the area shortly.
  • The affected nursery is under tight biosecurity controls and movements on and off the property of plants and people are restricted. The property has been treated with a fungicide spray.
  • MPI has urgent work underway to determine the scale of the incursion and to trace where materials from the nursery have gone.
  • Rust diseases such as myrtle rust are notoriously difficult to control and so far there has never been a successful eradication of this disease.
  • Myrtle rust is a fungal disease that affects plants in the myrtle family, which includes some of New Zealand’s iconic species such as pohutukawa and manuka, as well as production plants including eucalypts and feijoa.
  • We do not know how it will affect plants in New Zealand. Overseas its impacts have varied widely from country to country and species to species. It is, however, likely to have significant impacts.
  • Myrtle rust spores can travel long distances on the wind. They can also be carried on people, clothing and equipment. The disease is widespread along Australia’s eastern seaboard and it has long been regarded as likely the fungus would ultimately reach New Zealand shores.
  • The Ministry has notified key partners about the suspected incursion, including DOC, local iwi, potentially affected industries and the regional council.
  • The nursery owner is to be congratulated for making such a prompt notification to MPI. His actions are a great example of what we are working to achieve through the Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement - having a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people on the lookout for biosecurity risk. Biosecurity is everyone’s business!
  • Members of the public are encouraged to be alert for signs of myrtle rust. It appears as bright yellow/orange powdery patches on leaves of myrtle plants and affected leaves may buckle or die off.
  • If you believe you have seen myrtle rust, DO NOT TOUCH IT or try to take a sample. Take a photo, including of the affected plant and contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

Full information is on the MPI website.

Management Plan

Our vision

Pukenui taonga
Whakahoki te mana
te oranga me te wairua
o te taonga nei
hei tohu mo o tatou

a forest treasure
a beating heart
with our help
its health and wellbeing
remains, for future generations.

Pukenui Western Hills Forest Charitable Trust

View the latest Pukenui Trapper's blog