A pseudo-pond will help visitors at next Saturday's Lizard Market in Omokoroa identify aquatic pests in their backyards and waterways.
The pond pest pop-up event on October 20, has been created by Bay of Plenty Regional Council as part of a week-long push for biosecurity education in the region.
Market visitors will be able to view a colourful, snap-together corflute pond that depicts unwanted catfish, perch, tench, rudd and koi carp as well as a range of undesirable plants. Life-sized samples of pest fish will also help with identification.
"We need to remind people their ponds can overflow into other waterways, so pest plants and fish end up in places where they shouldn't be," says regional council biosecurity manager Greg Corbett.
"In some cases, gardeners will unwittingly swap plants without realising they're doing something hugely damaging."
He says one plant, salvinia, can quickly clog waterways and create a significant flood risk, or choke other plants and change the ecosystem of a stream or river. Pests such as catfish will eat inanga, whitebait and other native species, while carp suck the roots out of native plants and cause riverbanks to erode.
"The waterways around our region are really, really important and pests can have a huge impact on them."
Council biosecurity officer Donna Watchman will be teaching people to identify pests by colour, size and other features such as distinctive barbels under the jaw of a fish. She will also show images of the native eels the council hopes to protect and will hand out chocolate fish to curious passers-by.
The interactive pond stand is one of a series of activities surrounding the launch of Tauranga Moana Biosecurity Capital (TMBC), a collaboration that brings together councils, iwi, government, science, education and business representatives to lead and take action towards biosecurity excellence.
The Omokoroa event is part of a national Ko Tatou This Is Us campaign that aims to create a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.
TMBC hopes to show other communities how to work together to guard what is precious.
"We'd like to have everyone in New Zealand actively seeking and reporting known pests or potential new pests," Mr Corbett says.
He says if Bay of Plenty residents and visitors spot something weird, invasive or new at home, at work or anywhere else, they should catch it, trap it, or snap (photograph) it and report their find.
Unusual discoveries or pests can be reported to STOP.PESTS@boprc.govt.nz or by calling 0800 STOP PESTS.
Exotic pests and diseases can also be reported to MPI on 0800 80 99 66.
For information about TMBC Biosecurity Week, see www.tmbiosecurity.co.nz