There will be no MOTH-ING around in this competition

Publish Date : 08 Mar 2024
Moth Plant Pod Competition

Enthusiastic students in the Howick Local Board area can compete in the boards annual Moth Plant Pod Competition and help to protect and restore the natural environment.

The moth plant is a vigorous evergreen climbing vine with arrow-head shaped leaves, dark green on top and grey-green below.

The flowers grow in creamy white to pink clusters, present from December to May with the seedlings able to thrive in shaded areas and establish themselves with ease. The flowers give way to leathery, pear-shaped choko-like pods.

Howick local board chair Damian Light says, “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."

In the previous year's competition, a remarkable 91 teams comprising of students, teachers, and parents actively engaged.

The board is eagerly anticipating a similar, if not more impressive, outcome this time around as they endeavour to contribute towards the preservation of biodiversity and the protection of the indigenous environment for the well-being of future generations.

“The aim is to educate our young learners in a fun, interactive, and safe manner with the assistance and support of their teachers, parents, peers, the Pest Free Howick ward team and of course this board”, shares Light.

The competition has two categories – preschool and open (primary, intermediate and secondary), where students are tasked to collect as many moth plant pods and vines as possible to win amazing prizes.

Light adds, “This competition offers a wonderful opportunity for our children/teens to enhance biodiversity and receive recognition for their achievements. In 2022, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) acknowledged the incredible achievements of this competition with the national Kura (School) Award in the 2022 Biosecurity Awards.”

Why is the Moth plant a problem?

Moth plant can become dominant in many situations and out-competes and replaces native plants. It smothers and strangles whatever it climbs on. The seeds are poisonous, and the milky-white sap is very sticky, and insects can become trapped.


Officially kicking off on 6 March, students/teams must be registered before midnight, Friday 5 April 2024. Click here to sign up.


The Pest Free Howick ward team have reorganised the prize categories to incorporate feedback from the schools, participants, and project team.

Prizes include:

  • Preschool

  • Open

  • Top primary / intermediate / secondary teams

  • Thickest Vine prize

  • Most small vines pulled by the roots prize

  • Whole School prize

  • Special mystery prizes for teachers & students.

Competition closes 10 May, the awards ceremony taking place in June 2024 and more details can be found on the Pest Free Howick Ward website.

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.

Feel like refreshing your memory? Have a read of last year’s end of competition story here for the total figures from the Howick Moth Pod Plant Competition 2023.

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