For many years councils have been issuing Resource Management Act consent documents permitting poisoning agencies and contractors to aerially spread Compound 1080 poison bait directly into waterways - despite the poison company's warning label stating: "Take measures to minimise the chance of baits accidentally entering any body of water".
1080 Working Group
In 2014 the Waikato Region Aerial 1080 Poison Report (pages 22 - 79 of agenda) was presented to the Environmental Performance Committee of Waikato Regional Council. As a result of the report and on-going deliberations, the "1080 Working Group" was formed.
The five councillors involved in the working group commissioned Mitchell Partnerships to undertake an "independent review" of regulatory compliance for aerial 1080 poisoning operations. Several months later Mitchell Partnerships released a "Draft Report" - which was received by Waikato Regional Council staff involved with the 1080 Working Group.
One of the 8 recommendations presented in the Draft Report stated. "Regarding the buffering of flowing and standing water bodies, and drinking water sources, there is currently no explicit condition under the HSNO controls, MoH permission, DoC permission or resource consents requiring operators in the Waikato Region to enact these buffers. We, therefore, recommend that a resource consent condition be added to all future resource consents requiring operators to avoid the discharge of baits into standing and flowing water bodies within the operational area, including the enactment of buffers around waterways and drinking water sources identified during the pre-operation phase."
When Mitchell Partnerships released its Draft Report to Waikato Regional Council staff - who were also working closely with the other poisoning agencies - the staff chose not to inform the Working Group councillors that a Draft report had been released. Staff then distributed the Draft report on to the poisoning agencies they were aligned with, for censoring. In effect - the "independent" review was censored by those who were being critiqued - and without the councillors that commissioned it being made aware, it even existed. Here is a report by the chair of the Environmental Performance Committee summarising the issue.
The poisoning agencies, not surprisingly, objected very strongly to the eight logical, community-focused recommendations presented by Mitchell Partnerships. After all, the Draft recommendations exposed critical flaws in aerial poisoning operation procedures, and if followed, the recommended resource consent conditions would affect an end to aerial poisoning operations.
After receiving strong feedback from the poisoning agencies it was assessing, Mitchell Partnerships, who may have been under intense pressure, then made major, and multiple alterations to their Draft report recommendations.
Several months after the Draft was distributed among the poisoning agencies aligned with Waikato Regional Council, the staff presented councillors on the Working Group with the Final Mitchell Report, which excluded most of the original Draft recommendations. Councillors were required to read the hundreds of pages and vote on the reduced recommendations within a few days of receiving the Final Report.
Councillors only became aware a Draft report existed after a "slip-up", at their penultimate meeting. When becoming aware of its existence, members of the Working Group requested the Draft from staff but were refused. The CEO was then requested to supply the Draft Report - which he did immediately.
In the same month the staff shared the Draft Mitchell Report with the three poisoning agencies it was critiquing - Waikato Regional Council, TB Free NZ, and the Department of Conservation - the same three organisations notified local councils of their three-way joint resource consent application (submitted to Waikato Regional Council (which issues the consents that permit 1080 poison bait to be dropped directly into the water) to continue spreading 1080 poison bait across the Waikato Region's forests and waterways - for another 35 years.
Further complications and disagreements over whether councils in the Waikato Region should be consulted - and whether they were consulted about the joint 35-year consent application - ensued. This letter by Taupo Councillor Kathy White was published in the Taupo Weekender.
Published 08 June 2016
As a result of on-going lobbying and advocacy work, two of the 1080 Working Group councillors - Kathy White and Clyde Graf - had several Code of Conduct complaints made against them. The New Zealand Herald printed the following news story.
In 2016 Waikato Regional Council voted to have the words. "Poison baits or carcasses may be present in waterways" added to their poison warning signs to better inform landowners, tourists, trampers and forest park users.
Because of the growing pressure applied by opponents, rural communities, and Local Government representatives, in April 2017 the New Zealand Government (who owns Orillion - the poison company that imports 1080) changed rules around 1080 poison use by removing councils' consenting processes. 1080 poison bait is now permitted to be dropped across forests and directly into waterways without the requirement for an RMA resource consent certificate - Radio New Zealand report.