Councillor Bill Rossiter with Kerikeri High School student David Blucher, winner of the 2009 Northland Regional Council’s ‘Excellence Award’ at the Top Energy Far North Science and Technology Fair.
Student David Blucher’s project ‘‘Spider mite, Might not’ (Biological Control of Gorse)’ was one of 136 science fair entries involving more than 200 students from 10 Far North schools.
The science fair – which began in 1978 - was held over three days recently at The Centre in Kerikeri and is organised by Far North science teachers.
The Northland Regional Council prize contributes $1000 towards the cost of the winner’s university studies and must be used within three years.
David, a Year 13 (seventh form) student from Otangaroa, near Kaeo, plans to use his award to study towards a university degree in anthropological science at the University of Auckland.
The gorse spider mite is used as a biological control option for gorse – one of New Zealand’s worst pastoral pest plants. David’s Regional Council award-winning work investigated whether the insect would attack native tree species if gorse – its primary food source – ran out.
David investigated the impact gorse spider mite might have on puriri, pohutukawa, rimu and totara.
He said such research findings were important, as they helped reassure those trying to control gorse that the insect would not damage native biodiversity.
David chose his research project because the rural areas he regularly travelled through were affected by gorse. His research grew out of a senior biology study for NCEA.
The gorse spider mite attacks gorse by sucking sap out of the plant’s stem. David’s research, conducted over three months, monitored weight loss in samples of gorse, puriri, pohutukawa, rimu and totara – a way of checking out how much sap had been sucked out of the plants by the gorse mite.
Regional Councillor Bill Rossiter says he was impressed with the standard of work at the Far North Science Fair.
"A number of the projects, in both science and technology, showed very good commercial opportunity, should the students wish to take their projects further.”