The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is funding a new marae-based project to help Kaipara residents grow their own food.
The response work follows the detection earlier this week of a single male fruit fly in a purpose designed surveillance trap. It is the second Queensland fruit fly found in the Parihaka areas of Whangarei this year.
MPI is working to ascertain whether there is a breeding population of the pest flies present. The Queensland fruit fly feeds on a large range of fruits and vegetable plants and if established here, could have serious consequences for our horticulture industries and home gardens.
Ministry Deputy Director-General, Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman says the field workers, from MPI's frontline troops and the operations provider AsureQuality, are extending the existing trap network in place and checking home gardens in the area for any signs of further fruit flies.
"To date there have been no further detections of the fruit fly, although this is early days.
"We have a field laboratory now in place to examine fruit and vegetable matter from the affected area plus any suspect insects that may be caught in traps."
Coleman says legal restrictions are now in place on the movement of whole fruit and some vegetables out of a defined Controlled Area that is centred on the location of the original find.
Coleman says there are understandably questions being asked about whether this latest find has something to do with the earlier fruit fly detection.
"At this time, all our science-based information tells us this is unlikely. MPI responded in line with international best practice to the former fruit fly find. We had comprehensive, tried and true trapping technology and fruit inspection in place for the recommended two week period and no sign of further flies was found.
"In addition, we kept an additional 37 traps in place following the January incident. These traps are very sensitive and we trust them to locate any fruit flies present. There has been no sign until this week's detection, leading us to believe this is a new arrival," he says.
"Of course, people will ask how this new find got into New Zealand. The reality is that at this stage we do not know and any ideas being put forward are pure speculation.
"There are a range of potential pathways (as these entry means are known) including commercial consignments of produce, arriving passengers and arriving recreational yachts. The Ministry has been looking at all of these pathways in some depth since the January fruit fly find and we cannot rule any of them in or out at this time."