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Pest alerts, news, and resources

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New pest alerts!


Red vented bulbul

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is searching for this pest in Bay of Plenty following an unverified report of a single bird being seen near Katikati recently. A single red vented bulbul was found and removed near Te Puke in May 2016.

MPI is offering a $1,000 reward for Bay of Plenty sighting reports that enable their response team to remove the pest.

Why is it a problem?

The red vented bulbul is very aggressive towards other birds and can cause significant damage to fruit (including kiwifruit) and vegetable crops. It is an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

What does it look like?

Red Vented Bulbul


  • Very active medium-sized bird - about the same size as a starling (20 cm)
  • Head is black and partially crested
  • Bill is black
  • Throat is black
  • Upper body is generally smoke-brown to black. Each feather is darker in the centre with white tips, giving a scaled appearance
  • Lower body is greyish-white
  • Very distinctive crimson-red patch beneath its tail
  • Tail is brown with a white tip.

Full information, including photos and a soundtrack of their distinctive call is available on the MPI website

What should I do if I see one?

If you see this bird, report it to the Ministry for Primary Industry Pests and Diseases Hotline on 0800 80 99 66. 

Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti)

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is asking farmers to look out for velvetleaf, a highly invasive weed that has been found in fodder beet crops in North Canterbury and Central Otago. It's been found on one Bay of Plenty farm so far.

velvetleafIf you find this pest please photograph it, mark its location so we can easily find it again and call MPI immediately on 0800 80 99 66. Quick reporting gives us the best chance of dealing with it.

It's a broad-leafed weed that grows to between 1m and 2.5m. It has buttery-yellow flowers over summer and autumn. Leaves are heart shaped and velvety to touch.

Velvetleaf is already present in the Waikato where it is well managed by the Waikato Regional Council. Please help us keep it out of Bay of Plenty.

See more velvetleaf information on the MPI website or download the factsheet (pdf, 976KB). 

Brown bullhead catfish (Ameiurus nebulosus)


A live, 26cm long brown bullhead catfish (Ameiurus nebulosus) was caught at Te Weta Bay, Lake Rotoiti on 16 March 2016. 

Catfish are a pest species that has become widespread in Waikato waterways including Lake Taupō. This is the first time a live fish has been found in the Bay of Plenty.

Regional Council is working with Department of Conservation and Fish and Game NZ to respond to the catfish incursion. That includes searching for more catfish to ascertain how widespread the problem is and exploring feasible control options.

Catfish are an unwanted pest because they feed on small native fish, trout and their eggs. Catfish also compete for food with other native species, including koura (freshwater crayfish). In high numbers, catfish can degrade water quality when they stir up sediments to feed, making water murky and unpleasant for lake users and wildlife.

The public can help prevent aquatic pests like catfish from being spread in the Bay of Plenty by checking and cleaning all boating and other watersports equipment before using it in a different waterway, every time. If you see a catfish in any Bay of Plenty waterway, please report it by calling us on 0800 STOP PESTS (0800 786 773).

See our catfish factsheet (pdf, 319KB) for identification tips and further information.

Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis)

arrowhead 2Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis) is an invasive aquatic weed that’s recently been detected in Bethlehem, Tauranga.

If you see arrowhead in the Bay of Plenty, please report it to us by calling 0800 STOP PESTS (0800 786 773) or emailing

Arrowhead grows in still or slow-moving waterways such as wetlands, drains and ponds. It has large glossy arrow-shaped leaves which grow up to 25cm long on stalks that stand up to 1 m above the water. Its white, three-petalled flowers have a purple blotch at the base and are visible between November and March. The flowers are about the size of a fifty cent coin

Arrowhead is an unwanted pest because of its potential to choke waterways, clog irrigation systems, aggravate flooding, displace native plants and animals and degrade fishing, swimming and other recreation opportunities. Arrowhead was first brought to New Zealand as a pond and aquarium plant. It has been previously found in parts of the Waikato but we’re aiming to prevent it from establishing in the Bay of Plenty.

See the Waikato Regional Council sagittaria factsheet for further information. 

Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii)

On 29 May 2014, Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed that three Mediterranean fanworms (Sabella spallanzanii) had been found during routine marine biosecurity surveillence in Tauranga Harbour. Two fanworms were found in Sulphur Point Marina and one in Bridge Marina. Mediterranean fanworm is an invasive marine pest that is an unwanted organism in New Zealand.

Mediterranean fanworm is known to be present in the Hauraki Gulf of Auckland, Lyttleton and Whangarei harbours. It was discovered on two barges in Coromandel Harbour last year, a vessel in Waikawa Bay earlier this year, and is the subject of an elimination programme currently underway in Nelson Marina.

What does it look like?

Mediterranean Fanworm

Mediterranean fanworm has a brownish/grey tube up to 40 centimetres long. At the top of this tube is a single white fan, banded with pale orange or brown. It often grows in clumps, although the specimen recently found was growing alone.

The Mediterranean fanworm does look like some native New Zealand fanworms, but it is larger and it has only the single fan. If it has two spiral fans, it is not this pest.

Why is it a problem?

Mediterranean fanworm can grow in dense, thick mats that compete with native plants and animals for nutrients and space. It can interfere with boat equipment and aquaculture, and affect recreational activities like diving by changing the underwater character. Once well established, it is very hard, or even impossible, to eradicate.

What can I do to stop it spreading?

Boat owners should keep their boat hull clean and anti-fouling paint fresh. Watch a video  or read this guide for boaties about keeping your hull pest free.

Take extra care to check your hull before you move your boat from one area to another. It's important to contain and dispose of any fouling you clean off your boat carefully - allowing it to sink to the sea bottom or drift away may aid the spread of marine pests.

What should I do if I see one?

For suspected finds anywhere in New Zealand (apart from Lyttelton and the Waitemata) please call MPI on 0800 80 99 66.

If you are the owner/operator of a boat, you can help prevent the spread of this marine pest by keeping your anti-fouling paint in good order and ensuring your boat hull, trailer and fishing gear is thoroughly cleaned before taking your boat to a new area.

Read more about the Mediterranean fanworm on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.

Kauri die-back disease (Phytophthora taxon Agathis or PTA)

The disease that causes kauri dieback has recently been detected in two young kauri trees in the Whangapoua Forest, on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Kauri dieback has not yet been detected in the Bay of Plenty.

PTA has been confirmed to be present in Coromandel, Auckland, Northland and on Great Barrier Island.  Care should be taken to prevent the transfer of PTA from these areas to the Bay of Plenty.

Why is it a problem? 

PTA is a soil-borne, fungus-like disease which is spread through soil movement such as that caused by rain, wild and domestic animals, human foot traffic and off-road bikes and vehicles. Microscopic spores in the soil infect kauri roots and damage the tissues that carry nutrients within the tree.

Some infected trees can show canopy dieback and even be killed without any gum showing on the trunks as kauri dieback also acts as a severe root rot below ground. Nearly all infected kauri die. In the past 10 years, kauri dieback has killed thousands of kauri in New Zealand.

Kauri die-backWhat does it look like?

Infected trees show a range of symptoms including yellowing of foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning, dead branches and lesions that bleed gum at the base of the trunk.

See the identification guide for further details.


What should I do? 

Keep kauri standing by taking care not to transfer disease spores if you have visited a kauri forest or have kauri trees on your property.

Tourists, hunters, trappers, trampers, runners, bikers and walkers are being asked to take particular care to:

  • Make sure shoes, tyres and equipment are cleaned to remove all visible soil and plant material before AND after visiting kauri forest
  • Use cleaning stations installed on major tracks: scrub to remove all soil and spray with disinfectant.
  • Stay on formed tracks and off kauri roots
  • Keep your dog on a leash at all times

If you see signs of kauri die-back disease on a kauri tree, please record details of the location and visible symptoms, take a photograph (if you can) and report it immediately to the Kauri Dieback Hotline on 0800 NZ KAURI (69 52874).

Find out more about kauri die-back.

Council reports – how are we doing?

Want to know more?  You can find Bay of Plenty Regional Council reports and plans here: