Weedbusters wage war on pest plants in Whāingaroa

Whāingaroa Weedbusters’ Weed Blitz saw neighbours get together to take up arms against pest plants in their backyards and neighbourhood reserves.

Around 200 cubic metres of weeds, that’s almost enough to fill the town hall, was pulled, hacked, slashed, chopped and yanked out by scores of locals eager to regenerate their green spaces with native flora.

Led by Greenslade Road Weedbusters co-founder Leanne Steel and Xtreme Zero Waste Organics Yard team lead Liz Stanway and funded by the Waikato Regional Council Council’s Environment Initiatives Fund, the project provided subsidised free miniskips for noxious weed collection around the Raglan township and vouchers for free trailer drop offs to local’s who registered with the programme.

“Our goal was to highlight the extent of what is an environmental disaster for biodiversity and devise a pathway for collective action to deal effectively with it. It’s been a real morale boost knowing how many of us are out there dealing to the pest plants,” Leanne says.

Neighbourhood weedbusting collectives have sprung up elsewhere around town, with neighbours in Kaitoke, Lily St, and Greenslade continuing the fight against pest plants in their patch.,

“Kaitoke walkway has been on the radar for many years. Malcolm Cox (former Raglan Area School principal) and Ange Prain have done an amazing job there and it’s awesome to see a new lease of life in the work Malcolm started,” Liz says.

A recent Whaingaroa Weedbusters’ Expo at the Old School drew in close to 100 locals keen to learn how to wage war on pest plants.

“We are looking at inviting guest speakers and running practical workshops in the future,” Leanne says.

They are also putting their minds to the next step in the regeneration process and plans are afoot for a community-run native plant nursery.

“Weeding out the pest plants is one part of tackling the problem. We want to help our weedbusters with affordable native options to stop the weeds growing back,” Leanne says.

With a view to develop a long-term strategic approach, Leanne and Liz are putting together a 10-year plan to collaborate closely with the Waikato District Council’s pest plant management schedule.

“It’s really a never-ending plan,” Liz laughs.

The pair don’t want people to feel daunted by the problem and believe if everyone made a regular, ongoing effort in their own backyards to catch the plant pests when they are small the problem will get easier to manage.

By Janine Jackson

What can I do now?

Join Whaingaroa Weedbusters on Facebook or email whaingaroaweedbusters@gmail.com to keep in touch. Watch out for more workshops coming up.

Check out the website weedbusters.org.nz to get familiar with what are pest plants and check out their great tips for weed control.

Walk around your backyard to see what’s there and invite Whaingaroa Weedbusters to help identify your weeds and ideas for control.

Take a break from the garden now until spring. Weed control using herbicides is effective now but better when plants are actively growing. You’ll use less herbicide and achieve better results.

Offer your volunteer skills to the project – native plant propagation, chainsawing, building, weeding, etc.