News

Scorpion Sting

Four people will be appearing in the Queenstown and Christchurch District Courts after being caught by Ministry for Primary Industries investigators allegedly smuggling live scorpions into Queenstown.

Four men are charged with various breaches to the Biosecurity Act 1993 after six Black Rock Scorpions (Urodacus manicatus) were allegedly smuggled from Australia through Christchurch International Airport and then into Queenstown.

In April this year, MPI received information that a Queenstown man was in possession of scorpion. As a result of this information a search was carried out in April and a live scorpion was discovered.

Further investigations revealed four men were involved in the smuggling ring and that all of the scorpions had been destroyed. MPI is satisfied that all of the smuggled scorpions have been accounted for.

The maximum penalty for each of the charges faced by the men is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

South Island Compliance Manager, John Slaughter says this type of alleged offending is up there with the worst of its kind, and could have had serious biosecurity implications had the scorpions escaped.

“We have expert advice that these scorpions could survive in the New Zealand climate, so it’s safe to say that we view this as an exceptionally stupid thing to do.”

Black Rock Scorpions

The Black Rock Scorpion is a dark-coloured species that can grow up to 55mm in length and is often found living under rocks and logs in Australia. Its sting can cause inflammation and pain for several hours in humans. It is a relatively long-lived species and can survive for eight years or more in the wild.

 
 

Advice for newcomers

Here are two helpful snippets from Institute President Rebecca Kemp:

Watch closely how the older members of your team deal with a situation, their method has likely been refined over a number of years and will save you the heart ache of too many mistakes.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to try suggest or try something new, although there are many cleaver Biosecurity practitioners in the industry a fresh eye can often solve a problem that we have been looking at for some time.

 
 

Profile: President Rebecca Kemp

This month we meet new Institute President Rebecca Kemp, Biosecurity Pest Plant Specialist at Auckland Council

Time in the job: eight plus years

What motivates you to be involved in biosecurity?

There are three main factors for my choice to be involved in Biosecurity. The first is the passionate people that I work with in the community really make the job. There are so many community groups in New Zealand working to make a real difference to their environment and there are some fantastic successes that keep me motivated to ensure that I assist them to achieve even more. The second is the professional's that I get to work with, colleagues with passion and drive who live to ensure our natural environment is protected and enhanced. The third is the motivation and high that the small successes and achievements that we make each day and week towards protection of our environment. This is what makes me stay involved and care so much about my job.

What has been your career path to your current position?

I have a degree in Applied Science Agriculture, my initial career path was not toward Biosecurity. It was water quality and pollution prevention. I spent sometime in the private sector with waste management companies and moved to a Rural Pollution role, I processed resource consents for dairy discharges, piggeries and poultry farms as well as carrying out an enforcement role for discharges for six years. Biosecurity became an option eight years ago following funding work in our region which combined both roles. My Biosecurity position also provided me with a chance to do less policing work and become more involved in engaging the community.

What makes up a normal day for you?

Every day is different. Some are spent with paper work, while others can involve urgent call-outs. Some weeks even involve roughing it on an island somewhere in the Hauraki Gulf. Great Barrier is my favourite place to rough it. Other days may see me bush bashing through the Puhoi area looking for old man's beard. Once I even had to assist in the removal of a stoat from an office in the middle of Orewa. There is one guarantee with the job though, that no day will ever be the same.

What do you enjoy the most about your job?

The varied nature of the job, there isn't an excuse to be bored.

 
   

Trevor James wins Peter Ingram Award

Trevor James is this year’s recipient of the Peter Ingram Memorial Award. Here is a summary of Paul Champoin’s presentation speech to Trevor. The nomination is a combination of information supplied by Ian Popay, Anis Rahman, Wendy Mead, Carolyn Lewis and Paul Champion.

Trevor joined the weeds team of the DSIR at Ruakura in early 1974.

The weeds team, nationally, was big back then, with most staff in the Soil and Field Research Section.

Trevor had joined a large vibrant weed research community, which was never to be as strong again. The organisation that brought together many of these disparate elements was the Weed and Pest Control Society. Back then the chemical companies also carried out and were happy to report on their research into new herbicides, new crops and new problem weeds.

Over the next 40 years Trevor’s career as a weed researcher developed, changing position from Technical Officer, to Research Associate and then Scientist, completing an MSc in Chemistry at Waikato University in 1995 and awarded his PhD in Soil Science at Massey in 2009.

Trevor presented his first paper at the Society’s conference at the Burma Motor Lodge in Johnsonville in 1977, a joint paper with Jennifer Hartley on control of musky storksbill in pasture.

Trevor soon became an indispensable part of the Weed and Pest Society, which became the NZ Plant Protection Society and ran or co-ordinated the annual conferences almost single-handedly as he still does. Additionally he has been a prolific researcher; a search on the NZPPS website yields a total of 235 results when you search for James, T.K. He became an influential member of the Society’s committee, starting in 1997 and culminating in his presidency in 2008-2010. He is still a committee member today. In about 2008 the Society joined the Council of Australasian Weed Societies (CAWS, formerly the Council of Australian Weed Societies) and in 2010, with Trevor in the lead, we ran the very first Australasian Weeds conference in Christchurch, three weeks after the first earthquake. Trevor subsequently became the President of CAWS for two years.

He is a much more recent addition to the NZ Biosecurity Institute but has been a major contributor to our Institute, generous of both his time and opinion.

His research has mostly dealt with weed control in primary production and more recently on conservation weeds, application and safe use of pesticides, pesticide fate and seed bank ecology.

His most recent research includes management of the up-and-coming pasture weed yellow bristle grass, identification of weed seeds and identification of plants introduced in contaminated coco peat and imported containers as a potential source of new weeds, and he became a multi-media star such was the interest in his discovery of the first glyphosate-resistant weeds in New Zealand.

Trevor is a huge support locally to the Waikato weed control community. If anyone wants a plant identified or has questions about control Trevor is available and is happy if we drop by his office. Trevor is a generous host to visitors wanting to look through his greenhouse where there is a collection of nasty plants and where some of his trial work is carried out.

Trevor has what I’m sure is the largest collection of weed photos in the country. There has been many an occasion when we have asked for a photo for various publications and Trevor has always generously provided one.

There have been many research projects Trevor has been involved in since I have known him. An example is the yellow bristle grass project where he has been a vital part of a community group’s efforts to learn more about this weed as well as promote awareness of it. Trevor produced the yellow bristle grass ‘ute guide’ which has been much in demand by Waikato farmers.

Most people will know Trevor as one of the authors of the three books Common Weeds; Grasses, Sedges and Rushes; and Seeds of New Zealand, being the principal author on the latter. His skill as a photographer really sells these books, nearly all the photos in these books were taken by Trevor. Trevor also did the lion’s share of organising the layout and printing of these books. These books are well used by the weed control community, gardeners and a multitude of others across the country, with the Common Weeds book being by far the best seller at Manaaki Whenua Press.

Trevor’s dedication to weed management, his selfless and tireless ability to pass on his knowledge to field staff make him an ideal recipient of the Peter Ingram Award.

 

The Peter Ingram Memorial Award

Peter Ingram was the pest plant coordinator at Environment Bay of Plenty. He had a passion for learning, shared his knowledge and discussed ideas and theories. He was especially encouraging of his team at Environment Bay of Plenty to take advantage of learning opportunities. Peter was a past president of the Institute of Noxious Plants Officers. The Peter Ingram Memorial Award is given to a member of the NZ Biosecurity Institute who has successfully undertaken or enabled others to achieve, relevant to pest plant education, control or management.


 

 
 

Biosecurity “Gammy”: Northland wins PeterNelson Award

Significant efforts and outstanding success in engaging the wider community in a range of pest control initiatives throughout its region, has won Northland Regional Council this year’s Peter Nelson Award.

The work extended to providing advice and assistance to significant private ecological restoration projects, supporting community groups and volunteers, sponsoring training programmes for both young and old, and providing training assistance and opportunities for participants to gain formal qualifications under the NZQA unit standards framework.

Don McKenzie, the council’s Senior Biosecurity Programme Manager said the award win has been publicised throughout Northland and staff who have been involved in pest control have all shared in the acknowledgement.

“We want to take the opportunity to again thank the Institute for the award. It is displayed with pride at our regional council office in Whāngārei and the positive feedback we have received from biosecurity colleagues, council staff and the public has been fantastic.

Don described it as the ‘Grammy’ of its field - keenly sought after and highly-regarded among the national biosecurity community.

“We see this very much as a trophy not just for us as a council, but also the many Northlanders from all walks of life who have worked closely with us over the past decade in a huge range of pest control initiatives both on land and in the water,” Mr McKenzie says.

“An award like this helps us keep the profile of biosecurity work in front of councillors, all of our pest control staff and the public,” Don said.

The win comes just a year after former council staff member, Peter Joynt, was posthumously awarded the other major trophy the institute awards annually, the Peter Ingram Award.

 

Peter Nelson Memorial Trophy

The Peter Nelson Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to individuals or organisations, for achievement in Vertebrate Pest Management within New Zealand. The trophy is a carved kokako standing on a limb above the skulls of small predatory mammals.

The kokako is carved from a kauri beam salvaged from an Auckland warehouse. The rings indicate the tree may have been 1800 years old when milled. The base is swamp Kauri from North Auckland aged about 38,000 years.

Inside the base is an account of Peter Nelson’s contribution to establishing professionalism within the pest management field in New Zealand. His long career in pest control had its origins in the 1960s and continued until his death in 1998.

 
   

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