Saturday, April 13, 2024

Howick celebrates moth plant competition winners

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Farm Cove Intermediate teams took out all three top placings in the intermediate division.

There is a war taking place across the motu – a war against the moth plant, one that takes over and frequently out-competes and replaces native plants, smothering and strangling whatever it climbs on.

Howick Local Board has risen to the occasion to help improve biodiversity and protect the native environment for future generations.

“Time and time again, locals tell us that protecting and restoring the natural environment is a priority,” says local board chair Damian Light.

“We’re fortunate to have an amazing community that wants to be involved and it’s our pleasure to be able to support them.”

The competition, held earlier this month, had four categories – preschool, primary, intermediate, and secondary – where students were tasked to collect as many moth pods as possible to win prizes.

“We’re immensely proud of the mahi that our local tamariki and rangatahi are doing to tackle pest plants,” says Light.

“And we’re not the only ones – last year the Ministry for Primary Industries acknowledged the incredible achievements of this competition with the national Kura (School) Award in the 2022 Biosecurity Awards.”

Ninety-one teams signed up for the competition and it was wonderful to see 57 of them compete for the first time.

“We’re thrilled to see the return of many schools and groups, as well as many more new participants. By working together, we can do so much more to tackle these invasive species and every year we’re blown away by the incredible success of this competition,” says Light.

In total, there were 397 participants, including students, teachers and parents, this year.

Cate Jessep, Sustainable Schools Advisor for Pest Free Auckland says, “It is incredible to see so many people take part in the moth plant competition, minimising waste raising awareness across Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa, and the huge positive difference they have made to Papatūānuku.”

The total figures from the Howick Moth Pod Plant Competition 2023:

  • 133,507 pods & small vines collected (up from 89,738 in 2022)
  • 700 seeds per pod (average estimate) – 93,454,900 seeds that will not germinate
  • 28 schools minimising waste this year
  • Howick schools have saved 3,195.65kg CO2e [carbon dioxide emissions] through their waste minimisation actions according to the data collected up to now.

A combined total of $5150 was paid out to the following winners:


1st: Team Mission Heights KINZ + most small vines pulled (6750 pods)

2nd: J Squad Pakuranga Kindergarten (2618 pods)

3rd: Team Cascades Kindergarten (2083 pods)

Spot prize: New Shoots Great photos

Thickest vine: Point View – 10 cms

Most seedlings: Pakuranga Heights

Overall best: Farm Cove Intermediate


1ST: Pakuranga Heights School Pod Squad (20,774 pods)

2nd: Evergreen Enviroteam Macleans Primary School (15,138 pods)

3rd: PVS Environment Hero Point View School (12,363 pods)

Spot prize: Shelley Park


1st: SJ Moth Plant killers Farm Cove Intermediate (13,360 pods)

2nd: Podders of Doom (POD) Farm Cove Intermediate (6962 pods)

3rd: The Daleks Farm Cove Intermediate (1404 pods)

4th: Howick Intermediate


1st: 3 Blind Mice Botany Down Secondary College (5249 pods)

2nd: Mozilla 2.0 Botany Down Secondary College (1064 pods)

3rd: Howick College (890 pods)

When removing this weed from your backyard, remember to wear protective gloves and remove it from the roots along with any pods and vines. Put them in a secure plastic bag and send them to the landfill via your regular council rubbish bins or through a community weed bin in your area.

“Thank you very moth to all 91 teams, students, teachers, and parents who took part in this event,” says Light.

“Special commendations to Howick Primary and Cockle Bay as they had huge numbers of pods.”

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