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24 January 2002
After a difficult start, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has completed round one of its targeted aerial spraying operation in west Auckland against the painted apple moth.
Just after 10.30 this morning the last areas in the target zone which included a small part of Avondale, Kelston, Glendene and Te Atatu south, were finished. Waikumete Cemetery, the Avondale Pensinsula and Traherne Island were sprayed on Monday.
The first targeted aerial spraying operation has been dogged with problems including bad weather, weather changes and operational hiccups such as blocked lines and a mechancial fault in a helicopter part, which halted spraying yesterday.
There will be a few weeks' break before spray operation number two gets underway. All residents in and near the target zone will be advised by letter. Public notices, radio and newspapers advertisements will keep them updated. MAF's free phone line 0800 96 96 96 will continue to take calls for general inquiries.
For more information please contact: MAF Communications Mary-Ann Crawford MOB: 021 648 117 Sherryl Arneil MOB: 0274 5863 534
The painted apple moth, a native of Australia, was discovered in the west Auckland suburb of Glendene two years ago. Since that time the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has been targeting the pest with ground control measures - ground spraying and removal of the plants on which the caterpillar feeds. The pest is a threat to New Zealand forests and horticulture because the caterpillar feeds and strips foliage. If allowed to spread, the estimated cost to the country would be at least $48 million over the next 20 years.
The targeted areas for aerial spraying are Traherne Island (which runs alongside the north-western motorway), the Waikumete Cemetery, an area around the Whau River and its tributaries which includes the suburbs of Kelston and Glendene and Te Atatu south and the Avondale Peninsula.
To cover the entire targeted aerial spray area takes around seven hours. However, because of Auckland's changeable weather the chances of completing a spray within one day are very unlikely. If the weather changes (i.e. the wind increases or rain threaten) spraying will be postponed until the next suitable morning (i.e. low winds and no rain)
MAF uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology to programme the helicopters to ensure only those properties in the targeted zone are sprayed and that properties are only sprayed once during each operation.
It may take two or even three mornings to complete the entire targeted aerial spray zone, but residents' properties will only be sprayed once during one spraying operation.