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.


Putting the train into training

Protect Editor Chris Macann offers his summary of NETS2013.

More than 200 delegates put the train into training when they travelled mostly by the TranzAlpine train to NETS2013 at Shantytown near Greymouth. The train trip provided opportunities to see at first-hand the biosecurity challenges that face Canterbury and the West Coast.

Outgoing Institute President Pedro Jensen and National Pet Control Agencies Chairman Bill Martyn set the scene in their welcomes.

Take a fresh look

Pedro encouraged all present to make the most of their time together.

Take a fresh look at biosecurity and continually challenge yourselves to find new and innovative solutions to those issues we collectively face.

Bill celebrated the second combined conference for both organisations.

“The positive feedback we received from the first one has proven to us that this is an effective way to deliver our technology transfer events,” he said.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Hapū welcomed delegates and explained some of the taonga of the region. Kaumātua were pleased conference-goers were dedicated to protecting the natural values of the Coast.

The world is watching

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy elaborated on two announcements he made earlier in the week emphasising that the world was watching the country’s new biosecurity measures. In particular he noted the pre-screening at departure points whereby passengers and their baggage can be assessed while in-flight, in preparation for their arrival off Trans-Tasman flights.

Possible tensions

Garry Ottman , Executive Director of the Game and Forest Foundation explained the intentions of the soon-to-be formed New Zealand Game Animal Council and acknowledged there would inevitably be points where there could be tensions with the biosecurity community.

He said the NZAGC is projected to be a national game animal management organisation which should recognise wild game as a hunting resource, and will aim primarily at better management of hunting.

Darcy Oishi, Acting General Manager for the Plant Pest Control branch of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture explained the challenges of managing biosecurity on an isolated group of islands, while having to remain within a larger federal governance structure.

Why not a predator-free NZ?

Andrea Byrom from Landcare Research at Lincoln concluded the conference with a stimulating discussion on the aspirational goal of a predator-free New Zealand. She explained how this could become a reality if there was a will and a suitable budget. While acknowledging essentially it remains an aspirational goal, it serves as a constructive focus for the country’s biosecurity practitioners.

Peppering the plenary addresses was plenty on plants, vertebrates, marine menaces and insect invaders and diseases.

Well Deseved

A career of dedication to the Institute and its predecessor organisations on the pest animal side earned Ray Clarey a Life Membership. Ray is one of six participants in the Institute’s first round of oral history interviews aimed at preserving the history of the Institute.

Effort in engaging the community in pest control initiatives won Northland Regional Council this year’s Peter Nelson Memorial Award for Achievement in Vertebrate Pest Management.

Trevor James’s dedication to weed management, and sharing of his knowledge won him The Peter Ingram Memorial Award for enabling others to achieve the field of pest plant control.

David Byers won the Stook, awarded for the best presentation. David’s presentation was on the Carp-N Neutral Project involving creative control methods of Koi carp, whose numbers have exploded in the Lower Waikato River Basin. The Stook is a cross between a story and a book. The winner is decided by a panel of members.

Young gun Adam Khan won the shooting trophy, apparently only dropping three shots which may be a record.

In the informal editor’s choice award category David Galloway won the award for Best Dressed Man closely followed by several other worthy candidates who too wore ties.

Darion Embling won the Editor’s Choice Award for Most Valuable Contributor to Protect Magazine

The unofficial award for Best Presentation Title went to Garrick McCarthy for “Pigs in Paradise”.

The prize for most effort to get to Shantytown might well go to the Primary Ministries Minister Nathan Guy, who’s flight was cancelled and who flew to Nelson then drove for four hours.

Road safety for Penguins

Field trips visited sites of the West Coast Ragwort Control Trust, the Punakaiki Coast Restoration Project, the Petrel Special Protected Area, the Grey Valley Kiwi Creche and the Blaketown and Cobden Lagoons. Visitors to the Blue Penguin Trust site saw how the lack of road sense has taken a high toll on the birds. Visitors to the Brunner Mine site were treated with an excellent interpretation of the Brunner Mine Memorial and historic site by local bus driver Matt Lysaght. “Sombre yet enlightening” summarises the feelings of some of the delegates.

Like no other - same time next year

Steve Ellis invited all to Taranaki at the same time next year promising it will be, as the theme suggests, like no other. This year’s conference organiser Carolyn Lewis has accepted the challenge of organising next year’s event in conjunction with the Lower North Island branch.

New President

The Annual General Meeting farewelled President Pedro Jensen after two years, and welcomed new President, Auckland-based biosecurity officer Rebecca Kemp. Waikato’s Darion Embling was elected to the vacant office of Vice-president (one of two).

Among other business the AGM agreed to survey members on what they wish to get from their Institute membership. As well the meeting agreed to develop a communication strategy to best promote the Institute and biosecurity in general.

The conference handbook is on the website with summaries of all the papers presented.

Also on the website are more photographs from the conference.


Kia ora and hello from the Executive

The Executive would like to thank the organising committee and Carolyn Lewis for a most memorable and successful NETS 2013 held from July 31 to August 2nd.

An outstanding start on the TranzAlpine train set the scene for a great few days of sharing information and technology. Shanty Town provided a unique location for the conference and gave many of us an opportunity to learn of the history of the West Coast and the very hardy souls who have lived and worked in this rugged and often unforgiving location.

I would like to thank Pedro Jensen for all his work during his role as President. The Executive is made up of a great group of Biosecurity representatives and I would like to thank you all for your hard work. As your incoming President I would like to thank you for your support and I look forward to the challenges which lay ahead of us especially with ensuring we keep the Biosecurity brand at the forefront of people's minds.

The Archives project is continuing to develop with Chris Macann as our Archive Co-ordinator and the Lotteries Grant secured earlier in the year to help fund this project. The Executive are looking forward to updating you of progress on this project which will secure NZBI history in one location for all to access NETS 2014 has been confirmed for Taranaki, this will come around very quickly if the past few months are anything to go by. Please support the organising committee when they ask for sponsorship and speakers. Your input will be greatly received.

Finally, our next Executive meeting will be held in October and in an effort to keep travel costs down we are having a teleconference, with a face to face meeting in the New Year.

Rebecca Kemp


From the Editor

From the Editor

I t was great to see so many familiar faces and meet new ones at NETS2013 aboard the train and at Shantytown. It is pleasing to see that it was a very well-supported get-together. I hope you all learned about some of the biosecurity challenges of Canterbury and the Coast while enjoying the scenery along the way, particularly the bus trip across Arthurs Pass which was a bonus we hadn’t expected.

Unfortunately there is never enough time to meet everyone.

In this issue you will find a summary of the three very busy days. There is never enough space to recognise all the presentations. There were around seventy.

Summaries of the presentations are in the conference handbook which is also on the Institute website.

I hope you find plenty of interest in this issue. As usual thank you all for your contributions and feedback.

Chris Macann



Intensive strike against spring pest butterfly surge

The Department of Conservation is geared up to mount an intensive strike against a great white butterfly spring breeding surge and is again asking Nelson Tasman residents for help in clearing the pest butterfly from the region and New Zealand.

DOC has set up a dedicated team, numbering up to 25, to carry out concentrated searching of gardens to look for and remove great white butterfly caterpillars and eggs.

The pest butterfly poses a major threat to home and commercial brassica crops and endangered native cresses.

Already this spring, 71 egg clusters have been found and 70 adult butterflies have been killed.

The support of local people is essential to the DOC-led programme to eradicate the great white butterfly in Nelson Tasman.

Householders are asked to look for the butterfly’s caterpillars and eggs in their gardens and report any found to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) hotline 0800 80 99 66. The caterpillars and eggs can be found in clusters on its favoured plants which include nasturtium, honesty and brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

The tiny, yellow eggs are found in clusters of 30 to 100. Young caterpillars are also tiny and are yellowish with a shiny black head. The larger caterpillars are speckled greenish-yellow and black with three yellow lines along their bodies and they grow to about 50 mm in length.

DOC is also asking the public to help kill great white butterflies. Female butterflies can lay as many as 750 eggs so killing butterflies helps prevent their numbers increasing and the butterfly spreading to new areas.

People taking trailers, boats and caravans out of the Nelson Tasman region are asked to check no great white butterfly pupae are on board before they leave home. Any pupae found should be reported to the MPI hotline 0800 80 99 66 and removed before leaving to avoid spreading the pest butterfly to new locations.

Large patches of overgrown nasturtium can become butterfly breeding hotspots and these are being cleared where possible. DOC is asking householders to remove or cut back nasturtium. If people don’t want to remove nasturtium plants they are asked to keep checking them for caterpillars and eggs and report any found to the MPI hotline 0800 80 99 66.

People are asked to report large patches of overgrown nasturtium to the DOC great white butterfly eradication team, ph (03) 546 3147 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Project Manager Bruce Vander Lee said knocking back the pest butterfly’s breeding spikes in spring and autumn was critical to achieving its eradication.

‘We put in an intensive effort against a great white butterfly autumn breeding spurt, searching out and removing infestations, and we are hoping as a result there will be fewer butterflies to set off its spring breeding burst. But that will be determined in how many infestations our field staff find and the public report to us in coming weeks.

‘Many Nelson Tasman residents will be out in their gardens tending to plants over spring. We are asking them to keep watch for great white butterfly caterpillars and eggs.

‘Leaves being rapidly chewed away on plants could be a telltale sign they are being attacked by the mob-feeding caterpillars that can quickly demolish plants.

‘We have had great support from the Nelson Tasman community so far and working together we have a chance of clearing this pest from our region and stopping it becoming a permanent, widespread major pest in New Zealand.’

Garden searches by the eradication team this spring are initially focussed on Nelson city where most infestations occur.

Householders in Richmond and in Tasman should also watch for butterfly infestations as the butterfly can fly to new locations. Infestations were found in Richmond for the first time last summer.

When infestations are found or reported, field staff remove the caterpillars and eggs, mostly by hand. Searches are carried out of neighbouring properties as they could also have infestations. Because the butterfly flies around, repeat visits to properties are needed to check for new infestations.

DOC launched the great white butterfly eradication programme in November last year. Agencies supporting it include MPI, Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council and Vegetables New Zealand.

Eradication team field staff have carried out over 28,000 garden searches since November and 850 butterfly infestations have been found and removed since it was first discovered in a Nelson city garden in 2010.

Over winter, a smaller field team searched for the hibernating pupae and also removed any caterpillars and eggs found that survived the colder conditions.


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