New Zealand – Pollution

Killara, our beautiful house in Kerikeri in the Far North was on ex-orchard land, we hadn’t had the land checked, we believed New Zealand to be 100% Pure, with no pollution as stated on the Government brochure we were sent when we applied so there was no need at all. Our lawyer said nothing about possible pollution, the LIM report showed no issues at all. Within months of moving in we all started to get ill, it took us over 5 years to realise what was happening and by then we were near death. I had been given 12 months to live and my wife Alison looked like a skeleton with deep sunken eyes in a taut white face! By chance we realised we were being poisoned and began to investigate, one of the easy toxins to find was Arsenic, the experts said there were others but more testing and money would be needed to find out all the contaminants present.

Arsenic compounds were used extensively in NZ, from 1885 for almost 100 years, as this fact sheet explains it was largely uncontrolled and vast areas of NZ farm and horticultural land, particularly the orchard land have heavy pollution due to this spraying.

Large areas of New Zealand were used for fruit poducution, ‘Kiwifruit’ exports earning the country massive income in the 1970’s. Kerikeri in the Far North was a massive area of production along with the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Otago all had huge areas under cultivation along with the area now known as the North Shore in Auckland.

Without doubt, it is difficult to colonise any new land and New Zealand was a long way from England and Europe. Early conditions were extremely hard, the Maori were soon causing major issues and the niceties of Law and Order were not that important. Survival was the order of the day and in New Zealand until very recently that survival depended largely on the income due to the farming industry. Later mining, gold in particular, was also important and was also largely unregulated, spoil being dumped along the coastline of the Coromandel peninsular being one example we came across.

It is understandable that with a small population struggling to live from day to day that regulation of the use of fertilisers and pesticides was almost non existent but for this to continue into the twentieth century and beyond is really unacceptable.

Due to the historic uncontrolled use of chemicals, New Zealand has high levels of contamination on agricultural and horticultural lands or areas that once supported these industries and has now been developed for housing or social use. The country has not made any provision for the cost of dealing with these issues and so they are ignored and procedures have been put in place to deal with outbreaks of damaging publicity about them.

Tourism and Immigration have become far more important, New Zealand is largely unpopulated and stunningly beautiful with clear blue seas, high snow capped mountains and huge lakes and forests all ready to be marketed as an adventure playground attracting millions of tourists with fat wallets to visit the country. The sheer emptiness makes it wildly attractive as a place to live, particularly from the overcrowded east, China especially.

In 1999, the 100% Pure publicity campaign began, at that time it was simple saying NZ is Clean, Safe and a great place to come to. I doubt that any of the people creating the campaign knew anything about the actual truth of these statements and it was advertising wasn’t it!

All the fruit production areas have serious levels of contamination due to the heavy use of pesticides, many are now some of the most expensive housing areas in New Zealand, it was naturally attractive land, beautifully cared for with excellent climatic conditions so prime and ready to divide up into large plots for large expensive houses. They built them unaware of the danger below their feet, almost all of these areas quickly installed reticulated water supplies to isolate the residents from the toxins in the soil.

In 2004 following research by Sally Gow, 30% of the homes tested on the North Shore’s old orchard areas were found to have high levels of contamination, potentially over 5,400 homes could be affected. The Councils noted the potential contamination on the Land Information Memorandums of the affected houses but did not test each house. It caused uproar, property was unsalable, all over the Country councils were under pressure. In the Hawkes Bay, in 2008, the Council was instructed by the Ombudsman following an application by reporter Marty Sharp to release their ‘HAIL’ list of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites in Hawkes Bay, at that time there were 3,099 properties listed, a large proportion being horticultural, when the list was published it only contained just over half this number. All over NZ all horticultural sites had been removed from HAIL lists, many Councils had already done so caving in to local pressure, all the North Shore properties were removed in 2005 as were the ones in the Far North.

We were devastated, our beautiful home and newly openly 5 Star Lodge business were built on heavily contaminated land, we screamed very loudly and that made it far worse. The council told us that in New Zealand, the owner of the contaminated land was responsible for the cost of clearing up the mess! Most people just sold such land when they found out, once the sale document was sold they had passed on the problem!

Then we were asked if the land had ever been GOVERNMENT LAND, the answer and why the question was so deadly is on the next page and fully detailed in 100% NZ.

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