The earnings from a targeted rate imposed on Whangarei Heads residents are being divided out, with the funding of two conservation groups so far.

The $50 levy tacked onto the Northland Regional Council rates bills of the 2060 rateable units at the Heads caused a stir when it was announced last year, with a handful of outspoken objectors refusing to pay.

NRC had since used just over $60,000 of the $103,000 total take to fund Whangarei Heads Weed Action for $21,000 and Backyard Kiwi for $40,000, said NRC biosecurity projects manager Kane McElrea.

Backyard Kiwi would likely get another $10,000 by the end of the year and any unspent money carried over.


Weed Action had employed project co-ordinator Joanna Barr, whose role was to help the community and landowners with ideas to grapple with weeds on their properties.

"There are already incredible community groups and keen individuals actively controlling weeds to protect their local reserve, beach or road frontage, or plugging away in the bush on their own properties," Ms Barr said. "My role is to support and link these groups and individuals, and encourage more people to join the fight."

One of the first initiatives the group had started with its new funding was a moth plant pod collection drive. Moth plant is a rapidly growing vine that invades and smothers native bush.

At this time of year it produces big "choko-like" pods, each containing up to 1000 seeds that could disperse for several kilometres in the wind.

Weed Action was offering an entry to a prize draw for every 10 pods collected. Pods can be dropped at Whangarei Heads School on Sunday, from 1pm-4pm or at Tamaterau Reserve on Wednesday June 8, from 8.30am-11.30am.

Ms Barr said gloves were needed when handling the pods, which should be bagged on collection to stop the spread of seeds.

The Whangarei Heads Pest Management Rate is thought to be the first of its kind in New Zealand and covers about 10,000 hectares from Parua Bay to Bream Head. Objectors to the rate said conservation was a national issue and should not be paid for by a small group of citizens who did nothing to contribute to the pest problem.

The rate was then put temporarily on hold while its legality was investigated.

The regional council said they were not aware of anyone still refusing to pay, though rates were collected by the Whangarei District Council on NRC's behalf.

- For information on the pod drive see Weed Action Whangarei Heads on Facebook or email