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Source: Auckland Council

Nearly 5000 moth plant pods, as well as countless moth plant seedlings, were collected recently as part of a coordinated school competition aimed at reducing the effects of pest plants on the environment.

The Ōrākei Schools Moth Plant Competition funded by Ōrākei Local Board was supported by Auckland Council Sustainable Schools and facilitated by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei. The competition was launched at the Sustainable Schools Teacher Cluster Meeting in March this year and held at the Pourewa Nursery Hub.  

“We had about 35 students involved across 15 teams who entered the competition. It was great to have entries from all ages from early childhood, primary, intermediate and secondary schools,” says Nicky Elmore of Auckland Council Sustainable Schools.

“Students and schools have shown a keen interest and are eager to enter next year.

“This was the first year for this project, and across the city initial involvement was fairly small, however students and schools have shown a keen interest and are eager to enter next year. Parents too because it runs throughout the April school holidays so is a meaningful holiday activity.”

Moth Plant (Araujia hortorum) is one of Auckland’s most noxious weeds, it spreads quickly smothering plant life and vastly reducing biodiversity. Based on similar successful school competitions with a view to the huge amount of environmental support the Ōrākei Local Board offers its community, Sustainable Schools approached them for funding to run a local Moth Plant Competition. 

Ōrākei Local Board Chair Scott Milnes explains that theirs is a very environmentally active community, though it can be difficult to find ways for youth to be ‘hands on’. 

“This concept resonated with us because we already have so many groups working on pest weeds, that the extra effort will have an exponential effect on those efforts. We are very pleased to support the Moth Plant competition project and its great value for money.”

Team Staples from St Thomas’ School won the thickest vine spot prize best video spot prize and were 3rd in the Primary School category with 184 moth plant pods collected.  They especially enjoyed the competition being during the school holidays and were left at the end wondering what to do with their weekends. It is safe to say that students at St Thomas’s School are now ‘Moth Plant Warriors’ and will always be on the lookout for more pods!

Competition details

The competition awards night was held at Pourewa Valley Reserve on Monday 14 June 2021.

Spot prizes were presented for the thickest vine, the most seedlings collected, the best video and in categories such as playcentres, primary school, intermediate and secondary school.

Those who collected the highest number of pods received $500 and native plant, they were:  

  • 1st place with 2885 pods collected was Emanuel Biran and Miles Miller (13 years old) from Michael Park College. Their prize was 144 native plants and $500.
  • 2nd place with 428 pods collected was Richard Manning’s KPP Skate Crew from Churchill Park Primary. Their prize was 21 native plants and $500.
  • 3rd place with 300 pods collected was Lua Downs “Team work makes the dream work” from Newmarket Playcentre. Their prize was 15 native plants and $500.

MIL OSI