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Pest plants a growing problem

A Masterton resident is alarmed about the growing presence of invasive weeds in Queen Elizabeth Park.

After the Times-Age published a story about freshly cut ivy being dumped in Millenium Reserve, a resident [who preferred to stay anonymous] got in contact to point out that the amount of ivy and banana passionfruit weeds growing in Queen Elizabeth Park is “really disappointing”.

The resident said he had contacted Masterton District Council [MDC] about it more than once but hadn’t heard back.

“People are out in the field all the time and I’m concerned that no one’s worried about it or looking after it,” he said.

While walking through the park alongside the Waipoua River, the resident pointed out multiple places where ivy and banana passionfruit are growing.

At some spots, the weed has climbed up the majority of its host plant, and the resident said there needs to be better pest control.

“That tree’s buggered, it’s killed it,” he said.

“It smothers the tree as it grows and stops the tree from breathing.”

According to Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC], English ivy can “invade and dominate woodlands, reducing regeneration of native forests”, while it describes banana passionfruit as a “vigorous, evergreen, high-climbing vine” that can block out light and prevent the establishment of native plants due to its rapid growth rate.

An MDC spokesperson confirmed the council had received a service request about the presence of these plants, particularly those close to the Waipoua River, and is investigating.

“We will be contacting the person who has reported them to help identify the locations of the plants,” the spokesperson said.

“We take the eradication of noxious plants seriously, and we apologise for the time taken to respond to the person who reported this.”

The spokesperson also noted that in some areas – like on the banks of the Waipoua River – pest control may be a matter for GWRC, in which case details of weed location are passed on.

When asked about the presence of weeds in Queen Elizabeth Park, MDC facilities and open space manager Ian Osland said the council has been made aware of “some small patches of ivy, which are removed when they are identified”.

“We have not been notified of any banana passionfruit but would encourage anyone who sees what they suspect to be an invasive species to let us know.”

Osland said Queen Elizabeth Park is carefully maintained by contractors.

“We are grateful for the community’s support in keeping our parks some of the best in the country.”

A GWRC spokesperson said the regional council manages the riparian areas along the Waipoua River to reduce the risk that flooding poses to people and the environment.

“As time and budget allow, we also control pest plants to help protect our planting activities.”

The spokesperson said GWRC is aware of the presence of English ivy and other invasive plants like old man’s beard and tradescantia along the river.

“Unfortunately, these are widespread throughout the region, often established through the dumping of waste or garden escapes before spreading naturally. We are planning to do some control in this area in the new year.”

    Anyone concerned about the presence of ivy or banana passionfruit should notify MDC through the Antenno app, or by calling the customer service centre on 06 370 6300 [after hours: 06 378 7752].


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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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