Check, Clean, Dry to stop the spread of hornwort

Hornwort has been discovered in a third Taranaki lake, reinforcing calls to Check, Clean, Dry and stop the spread of pests before it’s too late.

Hornwort is a highly invasive aquatic weed that is a significant threat to the ecology of fresh water ecosystems.

In Taranaki it was discovered in a small reach of Lake Rotorangi in 2012. Within five years it had spread throughout the 46km lake, which is located on the Patea River.

Last summer a Taranaki Regional Council officer found it in Lake Herengawe, locally known as Lupton’s Lake, a popular boating spot near Waverley.  Recently Council officers doing routine lake monitoring spotted it in a third lake, Lake Mangawhio, about 30km north east of Waverley.

There are concerns it could spread further within the region, infesting other Taranaki lakes and waterways.

Council Environment Services Manager Steve Ellis says hornwort gets caught on boats, boat trailers, kayaks, fishing gear, eel nets and duck shooting equipment so it’s crucial lake users follow the Check, Clean, Dry method every time they move between waterways.

“It just takes one fragment the size of a fingernail to cause a new infestation.  If people are not vigilant in cleaning their gear it will inevitably spread and then we’re fighting a losing battle.

“Once a weed such as hornwort becomes established in a lake or waterway the cost and logistics make it almost impossible to eradicate. That’s why our focus has to be on prevention.”

The Council is working closely with South Taranaki iwi Ngaa Rauru to raise awareness and educate the community about the damage hornwort and other aquatic pests can do.

Kotuhotuho Puutaiao Fiona Shaw says Te Kaahui o Rauru is concerned about the spread of hornwort into and within its rohe, and will be looking to support the Check, Clean, Dry freshwater biosecurity initiatives alongside the Council in the new year.

The Council is also working with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand around the recent hornwort finds.

Hornwort is just one of many pest plants and fish that are a threat to Taranaki lakes and waterways. Those who use the lakes need to do their bit to protect them, Mr Ellis says.

“We want you to get out and enjoy summer in and on our lakes, whether in Taranaki or further afield. Just remember to Check, Clean, Dry when moving between waterways.

“It’s a simple, quick thing we can all do to protect our unique biodiversity and stop the spread of pests.”


For more details on the Check, Clean, Dry method go to link).