Tribute To An Environment Legend

The people of New Zealand are losing not only the quality of their once pristine rivers, but also the ownership of the water to hungry predators. Bill Benfield

Bill Benfield passes on

By Roger Childs

Bill probably knew more about the problems facing the New Zealand environment than anyone else in the country. He wrote a number of books and articles on such issues ranging from 1080 poison to water quality.

Unfortunately, it has only been in the last few years that mainstream media has taken much notice, and many of his thoroughly researched pieces earlier featured in the online outlets – The Tasmanian Times and Kapiti Independent News.

As well being an expert on environmental and conservation matters, Bill was also an architect, vintner, tramper and fisherman.

He passed away peacefully in the Wairarapa last Wednesday.

Architect and winegrower

As an architect he was responsible for projects in London, the Northern Territory and the Wellington area.

In Australia he also assisted indigenous peoples with land use issues and putting a case to the Woodward Aboriginal Land Rights Commission.

In later years, with wife Sue Delamare, he established a small vineyard and winery near Martinborough, based around traditional French methods of growing grapes.

A key element was low growing vines that did not use irrigation. The wines did very well and for their efforts the couple received a Ballance Farm Environment Award for sustainability, in 2005.

A fearless advocate

A huge concern of Bill’s was the ruinous and destructive influence of 1080 poison on the New Zealand environment.

In his landmark book The Third Wave Poisoning the Land he identified the scientifically unsound opinions of Leonard Cockayne, as leading to the obsession with poisoning so-called pests so that the New Zealand ecosystem of hundreds of years ago could be restored.

Bill pointed out that the destruction of our environment began with the descendants of Polynesian immigrants eliminating browsing birds and burning down forests. The second wave came with the settlers from Europe, who continued to clear the land and introduce a variety of domestic animals and wildlife.

Two other books – At War with Nature and Water Quality and Ownership – addressed the disastrous impact of human activity in more recent times on everything from oceans to bird life.

Bill did not flinch from taking on the establishment and their politically correct attitudes and policies. Sadly mainstream media often ignored the fundamental truths he was espousing.

KIN had been indebted to Bill for his permission to reproduce Tasmanian Times articles and for the exclusives he wrote for us.

His wide knowledge, intellectual honesty, fearless integrity and warm friendship will be greatly missed.











I feel honoured to have met Bill Benfield in person. I’ve unashamedly promoted his books.
His main message is still not widely understood He logically explains the scientific evidence which shows we do not need to use poisons to kill introduced wildlife. He unravels the history of how NZ got this so wrong and how corrupt political process continues to support past mistakes right up to the present day. My condolences to his wife Sue Delamare and his close mates.

I only had the immense pleasure to meet Bill twice and his knowledge of the Environment and what is happening is way ahead of most people I know! He obviously was a deep thinker and spoke his mind as receivers of his wrath know! God Bless Bill and may you fight the good fight up there!

Sympathy to Bill’s friends and family.

But I think he is mis-described as an expert on environmental and conservation matters. He was rather a champion of the introduced species, the furry, finned and spined creatures that have done such damage to NZ native species and ecosystems. I believe Bill spoke for the old-style acclimatisation society mindset.

Bill became a close friend and we regularly “chin-wagged” by phone across Cook Strait. He was principled, fearless,possessed total integrity and got off his backside in no uncertain fashion producing three fine books. He leaves a legacy that should – indeed must – inspire many others to stand up and be counted about the illogical and insane policies of government with respect to poisons and other chemicals and the “corrupt” gravy train associated with the misguided policies. He was co-chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations. His leaving of us leaves a giant void. -The biggest danger to attaining commonness in the currently misguided, wonky, conservation policies is apathy. Too many are indifferent. We need more and more Bill Benfields. —- Tony Orman

Bill ,I was going to say was ,But i decided no ,Bill is a man that cares about nature and understands The cycle of life that our ministry of Conservation have no inclination about .A legend and a man that understands how the circle of life evolved,and does so today a Philosopher of life.Long live Bill


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