Disturbances in Whitianga 5: Breaches And Aggression

(This is Stephanie’s final article in the series. Scroll down to  February 14, 15, 16  and 18 to see the earlier ones.)

Dysfunctional DoC

By Stephanie McKee

There is strong feeling against 1080 and the way DoC operates

This whole raruraru (trouble) in Whitianga and beyond, demonstrates that the Department of Conservation is dysfunctional, and treats local residents and local government alike with arrogance.

The public experiences the Department of Conservation as a law unto itself.  It does not inform local authorities, it does not follow its own consultation guidelines, and it breaches statutes.

For example, the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act under which DoC receives consents for aerial poisoning requires :

  • caution where there is scientific or technical uncertainty ( Section 7);
  • protection of Maori taonga (Section 8)
  • and consultation ( Section  5).

Aggressive approach

DoC Security at the loading zone October 18 2017

And on top of this, DoC is behaving with increasing aggression towards the public.  Locals call this the “Militarisation of Conservation” .

This is the inevitable outcome of the war on nature mentality.

Left: Papakai militarised, 18 October 2017. A high fence was erected at the end of Kaimarama Valley Road and guarded throughout the day of poisoning by DoC staff. A DoC staff member in safety vest was a registered “Warranted Officer” with police powers.

A notice says the fence is electrified. A guard patrolled the ridgeline above the valley. Note no number plates on the vehicle.

Piloting Alternatives to 1080

These are Promised by the New Coalition Government

Radical changes are urgently needed in the management and culture of the Department of Conservation.

The extra money that DoC will be receiving from the new government needs to go into an immediate inquiry and review of DoC practices and culture.

And remember the promise from the Governor General’s Speech from the Throne at the Opening of Parliament, “ that this government will pilot alternatives to 1080.” ?

What this means is yet to be seen. At least that is a baby step in the right direction.

Do the pilot in Coromandel

The Kaimarama valley: such a beautiful place they are poisoning, and the watershed for Whitianga.

Coromandel is an ideal region to pilot “alternatives” as long as it is not just a different poison!

Landowners are joining together in supportive networks to practice and promote what could be termed Holistic Conservation, and Kuaotunu Environment Action Landowners are controlling pest species with trapping only and practicing the kaupapa of Rongoa Whenua. (For medicines and food to be harvested from the land, the land must be free of poisons)

Victor MacLean, Ngati Tamatera hapu and a Trustee of Kuaotunu Environment Action says : “ On the Coromandel, trapping has been proven to work, and has proven to be cost effective. Trapping produced the highest rate of kiwi chick survival.”

Mass indiscriminate aerial 1080 drops brings with it associated risks as tons of this ecotoxin are transported and stored in rural towns, near schools, supermarkets, and residential homes. This has to end.

Tens of thousands of people nationwide want the new government to urgently review conservation practices.  There is so much that needs reforming.

Check out Aly Cook’s new song “Poison Rain.”

(Anti-1080 activist Graeme Sturgeon’s court case opens today.)