Disturbances in Whitianga 3: Who Assaulted Whom?

We continue our series on the bizarre events in the Coromandel back in late 2017. Next week the trial begins of a man who was allegedly assaulted but then charged with assault! (To read stories 1 and 2 scroll down to February 14 and 15.)

A Kafkaesque Turn of Events

By Stephanie McKee

Graeme Sturgeon: assaulted but charged!

In November 2017, a victim became the accused and Graeme Sturgeon found himself charged by the NZ Police with Common Assault.

Wendy Pond was informed verbally that the police would not charge the security guard with assaulting her as she was associated with Graeme Sturgeon.

Two months after the assault on her, Diana Halstead received from the Police, on 21 December 2017, formal notification that they would not lay charges for assault against the security guard, while at the same time, advising her that “people affected by crime” can get help from Victim Support and “a Ministry of Justice website www.victimsinfo.govt.nz”.

Question: What circumstances prevented NZ Police from laying a charge of assault in this case, given that they acknowledged that Diana is a victim of crime?

Graeme and his lawyers will be defending these charges in the Thames District court on Monday Feb 19th and Tuesday Feb 20th .

DoC breaking its own rules?

In June 2017, an open letter to MPs was published in local Coromandel papers, the Hauraki Herald and the Mercury Bay Informer, as well as being sent to MPs in Parliament.(For the full text, see https://poisonfreecoromandel.blogspot.co.nz/p/blog-page.html)

The letter was signed by hundreds of local residents from all walks of life, and included many local hapu representatives. The statement of the letter claimed that DoC did not have “the social licence to operate” for aerial 1080 drops over public conservation lands.

Local community boards and the local council TCDC, had passed resolutions since 2007 in support of local peoples appeals, opposing 1080 and supporting trapping, to manage unwanted species like possums, stoats and rats

DoC has evidently chucked its own consultation guidelines in the rubbish bin. No more were locals being offered “options for control” as required by the Communications Guidelines for Aerial 1080 Operations ( ERMA 2009. Environmental Risk Management Authority has now become the EPA, Environment Protection Authority)

The Social Licence to Operate

The public has frequently made its feelings known about 1080 poisoning

The Social Licence to Operate concept ( SLO) came out of the mining industry in the 1990s and was later adopted by other businesses.

One definition describes the Social Licence to Operate as “ a measure of confidence and trust society has in a business to behave in a legitimate, transparent, accountable and socially acceptable way.” ( Source: Social Licence to Operate, Sustainable Business Council , 2012)  This concept can also be applied to government departments such as DoC.

In the eyes of many Coromandel residents, DoC has failed in all these areas:

  • legitimacy
  • transparency
  • accountability
  • social acceptance.

The secrecy surrounding the storage of 23,000kg of 1080 baits shows that DoC knows this practice is not accepted on the Coromandel Peninsula ( nation-wide, for that matter).

Public opinion does not support 1080 drops

DoC’s own public opinion research in 2016 confirms this: an increasing number of NZers find aerial poisoning unacceptable. ( IPSOS 2016)

In their survey, the attitude to aerial 1080 drops were as follows:

  • 9% had no concerns
  • 25% reasonably comfortable with appropriate controls
  • 59% said it should never be used or as only as a last resort.

As for trapping and hunting 90% and 89% respectively had no concerns or reasonably comfortable.

(To be continued.)