Howick children at the forefront of making Auckland pest free

Publish Date : 14 Jun 2021
Howick children at the forefront of making Auckland pest-free
Howick Moth Pod Competition 1
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Howick Moth Pod Competition 4

For the last few months, school children and preschool toddlers in Howick ward have been behind a mammoth hunt that yielded monumental results. The hunt was for the moth plant - a pest plant that is an enemy of our native trees and environment.

The massive operation called Moth Plant Pod Competition involved a dozen of teams from the entire ward who collected a whopping 54,890 moth pods and small vines – equating to an estimated 3.8 million seeds that will not germinate.

It’s 44,000 more pods and vines than the 2019 competition and 53,000 more than the 2018 competition when Howick Local Board funded the pilot as a part of Pest Free Howick Ward project.

The teams were comprised of students in four categories – preschool, primary, intermediate, and secondary. The challenge was simple - the winner was the team or individual with the most pods and small vines pulled out by the roots. The full list of winners can be found below.

The competition is one of the many activities Howick Local Board funds through the Pest Free Howick Ward project and the local board chair says seeing our youngsters’ passion is a reaffirmation that the environment is their top priority.

“It’s been wonderful to see all those kids going out in the community with their teams, pulling out moth pods, some even collecting more than 8000 pods, and helping with our effort to make Howick pest free.”

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Howick Local Board Deputy Chair John Spiller, who attended the prize-giving ceremony at Howick Primary school, said it felt satisfying to celebrate the efforts and achievements of the community.

“The infectious enthusiasm of the participating school children, backed by their teachers, clearly demonstrated to me that the future of both the local and wider environment is already in good hands.

“Congratulations to all who are involved, it’s great to see the collaborative effort between the children, their teachers, council’s environmental team and the local board all contributing to very positive outcomes for the environment”

Howick Moth Pod Competition 2

Get involved 

Moth plant is spreading quickly, killing our native plants. Howick Local Board regularly organises events such as weed disposal days, plant swaps to swap your weed plans for natives, and trap hand-outs.

Check out our Pest Free Howick Ward Facebook page to keep an eye on what we are doing in Howick to protect our environment.

Find out more about our pest free activities across Auckland on

Full list of winners of Moth Plant Pod Competition 2021

Secondary Schools:

1st - Team Mel and Tracey, Botany Downs Secondary College - 8876 pods

2nd - Team EC EC, Edgewater College - 4838 pods

3rd - Team Mitochondria, Botany Downs Secondary College - 1855 pods

Intermediate Schools:

1st - Team The Saplings, Howick Intermediate - 2515 pods and small vines by roots

2nd - Team Catch'm All, Farm Cove Intermediate - 1100 Pods

3rd - Team Miss Dubey & Mr Read, Somerville Intermediate - 723 pods

Primary Schools:

1st - Super Garden Protectors, Riverina Primary - 3833 pods and small vines

2nd - Team West Kids, Cockle Bay School - 2420 pods

3rd - Team HPS Mothbusters - Howick Primary - 2388 pods


1st - Toddler Moth Plant Hunters, New Shoots Pakuranga & Just Kidz Flat Bush - 1777 pods and small vines

2nd - Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten Kindy Kids - 395 pods and small vines

3rd - Cascades Kindergarten - 338 pods and small vines

Thickest vine
Pakuranga Heights POD Squad - 13cm wide & 5cm wide
Most small vines by roots
The Saplings, Howick Intermediate - 2,000
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Howick Moth Pod Competition 8
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