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Published: 2009-12-22 00:00:00

Maize farmers John and Margaret Hodge are the first people to be recognised under a new scheme designed to acknowledge people voluntarily doing excellent pest control work in the Waikato region.

The Hodges’ efforts was recently formally recognised at a combined meeting of Environment Waikato’s north and south zone pest management advisory sub-committees.

The recognition follows a decision by the pest sub-committees to do more to promote voluntary pest control work by members of the public.

The chair of the regional pest management committee Simon Friar said the Hodges were a great example.

"They have helped develop a beautiful stand of kahikatea through their dedicated pest control work over the years," said Cr Friar.

The Hodges bought their property 47 years ago with the stand of kahikatea being one of the key things that attracted them to it. The trees now cover a flourishing two acres.

Ongoing pest control has been very important to the stand’s health, with the Hodges having killed thousands of possums and rats.

"The bush really took off after we started to control the rats," says Mrs Hodge.

Mr Hodge said that, after fencing of the site was completed and rat control started, seeds from a range of plants have taken root after being brought in by birds. "We never had pidgeonwood on nikau palms here before."

The couple are proud of what they have accomplished, saying that, while the stand is not very large, there is so little native forest left in this area that every bit is precious.