News and Events

Innovative Pest Control Engagement in Howick Captures MPI Interest

November 11, 2022

Congratulations to the team at Sustainable Schools Auckland and the enthusiastic group of students and teachers and whānau that have grabbed hold of an opportunity to eradicate the moth plant pest from Howick and surrounds. The Howick Schools’ Moth Plant Competition, Tāmaki Makaurau/ Auckland has recently received the New Zealand Biosecurity Kura (School) Award.

Moth plant pods collected by students around Howick.

Created to engage and educate local students in biosecurity, each year the competition reaches early childhood centres, primary, intermediate and secondary students, teachers and whanau. Challenging tamariki to become committed to moth plant eradication, and the creative approach to biosecurity engagement has produced outstanding results.

Students have collected approximately 148,000 moth plant pods and seedlings so far – achieving positive biosecurity outcomes for not only Howick but also the Otahuhu / Mangere, Ōtara / Papatoetoe and Orakei local board areas in Auckland.

Experienced Enviroschools Facilitator, Cate Jessep has been instrumental in promoting this approach in Howick alongside Howick Board and Pest Free Howick experts who encourage uptake and appropriate collection and disposal of pods and plants.

“The moth plant competition has proven to be very effective in many ways. Not only is it an effective biosecurity programme that has removed hundreds-of-thousands of moth plant pods, but it also enables students to learn about the environment and protect it in a meaningful way. We often find that students become champions of environmental action in their local area, passing their knowledge and drive onto their peers, friends, and family.” – Ethan McCormick

Further to this, it is fantastic to acknowledge the growth of AsureQuality Emerging Leader, Ethan McCormick.

“I think Ethan really deserved the award as he has done so much for schools around Howick.  He taught me a lot about trapping pests and keeping track of how many you caught and where you caught them.  It is important to know where they are and where you should keep trapping, and if you catch them it will keep them away from native wildlife.” – Lily Hawkins, student, MacLean’s Enviroschool, involved the pest free cadet programme

Ethan checks a trap in the local reserve.

Ethan was encouraged by his teachers and Enviroschools facilitator to undertake a cadetship for Pest Free Howick. He now combines his environmental study as a university student, with being a central member of the Pest Free Howick Ward team and Friends of Mangemangeroa Trust.

Ethan runs regular pest free workshops for teachers and Envirogroups, ‘Pestivals’, and community pest education. He is also piloting a cadet programme in Somerville Intermediate.




“The winners of the ten awards represent some of Aotearoa’s most outstanding biosecurity leaders who are committed to protecting our unique environment from pests and diseases. They are people at the forefront of exceptional intensive biosecurity-related projects, like those protecting hectares of iconic New Zealand landscape from wilding pines to teams galvanising thousands of city dwellers to remove plant and animal pests in their backyards, communities and schools. The awards give us a chance to take a moment and honour their important achievements. We’re proud to celebrate the organisations, iwi, and tamariki around the country playing a crucial part to protect our bush, our oceans and waterways, and our backyards.” – MPI Biosecurity Awards organisers

Congratulations to all those recognised for the biosecurity mahi.

Below are 3 success stories we have published and a profile of Ethan when he started his cadetship.

Enviroschools | Growing a Living Learning Landscape at KiNZ Mission Heights

Enviroschools | Lucas and the moth plant pods

Enviroschools | Student commitment helps decrease threat of Moth Plants

Enviroschools | Enviroschools Empowers Ethan to Engage

Roman with his pod collection.

Lucas explains what the moth plants look like.