A big incentive and a goal to help rid the region of a pest plant has seen more than 5000 moth plant pods collected by students at Napier Boys' High School.

The competition was the brainchild of head of general science, Michael Ashby, who undertook a similar project in Auckland, which had been funded by the Auckland Council's local boards.

"It worked up there very well, got the students involved in tackling an issue with pest plants and I thought I would go to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and see whether it was an issue here," Ashby said.

With the green light, and funding given by the council, the competition caught the eye of 13 students.


Ashby said it was similar to in Auckland, where the quantity of entries were low, but the quality of entries were high. In the second year, and with increased prizemoney open to multiple schools, the interest "exploded".

Year 9 George Funari said the money drew him to enter, but knowing he had made a contribution to the environment, was satisfying.

He spent his evenings, after school for most of the five weeks the competition ran for, knocking on people's houses asking if he could collect the moth plant.

"They didn't really know what they were, but they just let me do it."

His determination saw him collect 1800 pods and earned him first place and a $500 Prezzy card.

Year 13 student Calum Aitchison and his brother came in second with 973 pods, and a $200 Prezzy card for their efforts.

While, with 820 pods, Sean Boswel and Gareth Bovens were awarded $100. There were also four $50 spot prizes.

All up, it is estimated that removing the 5901 pods, took about 4.7 million seeds out of the environment.


Ashby hopes more schools in the region will be involved next year, with 2021 when they advance to include the removal of the vines themselves, which is more ideal for a long-term solution.

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokeswoman said it was a great initiative to get the younger generation more involved in urban biodiversity.

"The HBRC believes everyone needs to work together to nurture and improve our urban biodiversity in our own backyards.

"The regional council encourages the control of moth plant and also encourages neighbours to talk to each other and work together if they find mothplant.

"It is important everyone takes responsibility for our urban (biodiversity) environment."