Home / Featured / Protesters partially block Mt Taranaki access in protest at 1080 drop

Protesters partially block Mt Taranaki access in protest at 1080 drop

SIMON O’CONNOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Chris Wilkes staged a protest against the use of 1080 within Egmont National Park, by creating a road block out of painted barrels.

Protesters partially blocked the northern entrance to Mt Taranaki on Sunday in opposition to plans to drop 1080 in Egmont National Park.

The small group, four protesters and two supporters, placed barrels painted with signs across the road, reducing it to one lane, and spoke to drivers as they headed up the mountain.

“It’s safe to go up at the moment but it won’t be in a couple of weeks,” motorists were told.

The road was narrowed down to one lane and protesters talked to motorists as they slowed down to enter the park.

SIMON O’CONNOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The road was narrowed down to one lane and protesters talked to motorists as they slowed down to enter the park.

Last month the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced it was going ahead with plans to drop 1080 around the park in an effort to eradicate possums and other pests.

READ MORE:
1080 could be dropped twice as often as part of DOC’s ‘battle for the birds’ in Egmont National Park
Community backlash against increased 1080 drops in Egmont national Park
DOC schedules 1080 drops in Egmont National Park this August
Dennis Ngawhare: Uneasy over 1080 on Mt Taranaki

Protest organiser Chris Wilkes said there had been a good response from people they had talked to.

“We’re just letting people know that the mountain won’t be safe for human habitation,” he said.

Instead of handing out leaflets, Wilkes and the other protesters told drivers that a meeting was going to be held next Sunday, with guest speakers talking about the dangers of 1080 and explaining alternatives to the controversial pesticide.

“We haven’t closed the road at all, people are still free to come through, but we’re just passing information along as they come through,” he said.

“It’s been clear to us that the consultation has been minimum from DOC, a couple of articles in the paper doesn’t count as consultation,” he said.

“We would have liked DOC to have a couple of public meetings with concerned citizens but they’ve just railroaded it through.”

The four protesters were dressed head to foot in white boiler suits and wore dust masks over their faces.

Wilkes said it was for their own protection against “hazardous chemicals”, as well as being part of the theatrics of protesting.

The group was a “few select people” Wilkes said, as he didn’t want it to get too big.

“There’s quite a lot of traffic so we don’t want to be holding people up for too long, you don’t want people getting upset,” he said.

New Plymouth woman Emmalie Wenn said she joined the protest because she thought there must be another way of controlling the pests.

She agreed with Wilkes that more consultation was needed.

“This mountain belongs to all of us, you don’t get to make decisions about a recreational area like this that all of us use,” she said.

DOC’s operations manager Gareth Hopkins said people had every right to protest.

“And if they do it lawfully, then that is their prerogative,” he said.

The latest drop, which has been in the works for more than a year, is part of the Taranaki Mounga Project, a $24 million, 10-year plan drawn up by DOC in conjunction with the Next Foundation and Taranaki iwi to make the region’s main national park pest-free.

It will be the last full drop before DOC switches from a six yearly drop to a triennial drop, when it will spread half as much 1080 twice as often.

The pesticide has been used by DOC since 1992 to eradicate pests.

 – Stuff

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