By Rob Walker / 10 September 2018 09:50:40A new report from the Australian Institute of Technology (AIT) suggests New Zealand is in a class by itself for its overall level of pest control.
The report, entitled New Zealanders are on the wrong side of pests, finds that New Zealand ranks seventh out of 21 countries for the proportion of its homes that are pest-free.
It says that while New Zealand has a high proportion of properties that are pests-free, this is not a good enough metric to judge the state of its property markets.
It is not clear how much the report actually represents, but it does raise questions about the extent to which New Zealand, which has a population of just over 7 million, is a country in which people do not want to live.
AIT Associate Professor Nick Williams says the research shows New Zealand “has the most serious pest problem on Earth”.
“It’s a global problem.
It affects the most vulnerable in society,” he said.
“We’ve got an incredible amount of wealth in our country.
We have enormous resources in our economy and we can use them to improve the quality of our housing.”
In its 2016 report, the AIT noted that Auckland had the highest proportion of homes with no pest control in the world.
But it also found that the number of people who have been pest-control-trained has increased in recent years, and is now higher than in many of the country’s other cities.
Williams says this is partly due to the availability of free training for homeowners, but also to the “huge success of the community-based approach to pest control”.
“It has a very positive impact,” he says.
However, the report says there are also “many factors that contribute to New Zealand not having the best outcomes in terms of the quality and quantity of homes in pest-controlled condition”.
The report also says that despite its high proportion, New Zealand does not appear to have achieved a “sustainable” pest-resilience level.
In the report, AIT Senior Researcher David Whitehurst said the report did not look at New Zealand specifically.
“[It] is not about the level of home protection, it’s not about what we do or don’t do.
It’s not just about the numbers of houses.
It is about how we manage the problems, how we improve the performance of our homes,” he explained.
Mr Whitehurst is a former Wellington City Council pest control officer who is now an independent consultant.
He says the report’s key points are: New Zealand failed to achieve a pest-resistant level in the last two decades, with more than 50 per cent of homes being pest-prone in the years from 2003-2017.
The number of homes that were deemed pest-safe in the most recent years was significantly lower than in the previous two decades.
Many of the properties surveyed did not have adequate pest control training and therefore did not meet the standards of the A-Z guide.
Most of the homes surveyed were located on either the outskirts of a city or were within a five-minute walk of a major transport corridor.
New Zealanders have a “high degree of vulnerability” to pests, and there are more people living in the country than elsewhere in the World.
There is a significant mismatch between the number and quality of pest-management services available to New Zealander households, the researchers say.
More than one in five people surveyed had experienced a home-related incident involving pest-related issues, and almost half of these incidents involved pets.
Pest control services are expensive and time-consuming to operate, and New Zealand cannot afford to continue to operate in this manner, the authors say.AIT Senior Research Fellow Rob Walker, who wrote the report on behalf of the city of Wellington, said the results highlighted how a lack of effective pest control services has created a climate of mistrust.
People in New Zealand do not trust their neighbours, and they are not going to share the responsibility of keeping their homes pest- and pest-proof, he said, adding that the report also highlighted the “inadequate level of training for home owners” and the “lack of investment in the prevention and control of pest issues”.
Whitehurst says that New Zealanders are still not fully aware of their responsibilities to keep their homes and properties safe from pests.
One in five New Zealand households do not have access to pest-defence training, and the Government’s National Plan for New Zealand to Protect Communities and Their Homes has not been fully implemented.
While New Zealand did make progress in the areas of pest protection, Mr Whitehurst says it still did not address the “significant gaps” in the national and state-level system.
When asked about the report in an interview with the ABC, Mayor Paula Bennett said the New Zealand Government would continue to work closely