The Man Sent By Sanfords
Over the New Year break Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson and his family have been on holiday in the Marlborough Sounds in Te Aroha Bay, located inside East Bay on the Eastern side of Queen Charlotte Sound.
Earlier this week a friend and neighbour on the island – and now a new Scoop columnist - received a call from a social scientist working for the Sanfords fishing company requesting a meeting yesterday, January 4th, for an interview to assist with a “Social Impact Report” on planned mussel farm expansion in the bay.
The report – a brief of evidence – would then be submitted, to court if necessary, in support of an application to be granted a license to operate a mussel farm.
The residents of Te Aroha Bay – all of whom are passionately opposed to the expansion of mussel farming in East Bay - initially intended simply to tell the man from Sanfords he wasn’t welcome from the jetty.
But then a more imaginative plan was hatched, the gist of which is recorded in the transcript and photos which follow. Suffice to say at this stage that the man sent by Sanfords did not receive what he came to collect. In the end rather than conducting an interview he ended up being interviewed himself, before being served with a trespass order.
For further background on the battle to save East Bay see Scoop’s new “Save East Bay” weekly column from East Bay resident Betty Rowe. Betty’s first column “A Gold Rush To Vandalism” is published today. Betty Rowe is the author of “Arapawa. Once Upon An Island”.
The questioner is Scoop’s Alastair Thompson, though the interviewees do not know this while they are answering questions. Since Sanfords had seen fit to send in spies to watch the residents of East Bay incognito it seemed only fair enough that the spirit of deception be maintained.
Q: What are your names?
A: James Baines and Brigid Buckenham from Taylor Baines and Associates.
Q: What are your professional backgrounds?
A: James: With Taylor Baines & Associates for 12 years doing Social Impact assessments. A chemical engineer by trade. Considerable experience researching impacts of developments on people and communities. Previous jobs include Port development in Auckland, Clifford Bay Tranz Rail relocation and landfills in Canterbury and on prison developments.
A: Brigid: Eight years working with Taylor Baines & Associates background includes research into the social impact of Marine Reserves for the Department of Conservation. Other experience includes work on the impacts of new and expanding shopping malls and of sewage treatment plants.
Q: Who is your employer and your employer’s client?
A: We are sub-contractors for Sanfords working under a contract awarded to Mitchell Partners. Mitchell Partners has overall responsibility for preparing reports on the environmental impact of Sanford’s mussel farms in East Bay and Melville Cove (in Port Gore).
Q: What is your brief?
A: To learn about East Bay, its residents, uses and the interests of its users. To contribute to the environmental impact reports and to appear as an expert witness in support of the Sanford’s application for a mussel farm in East Bay.
Q: Will you be preparing any other reports for Sanfords aside from the evidence to be presented to court and planning hearings?
A: There is no plan to do so at this stage.
Q: What are the two Sanfords people doing at Wharehunga point?
(Note: Two students have been camped out at Wharehunga, the mouth of East Bay, since late December. When visited and asked what they were doing one refused to come out of her tent while the other refused to supply any explanation for their presence.)
A: Observing boat movements in the bay.
Q: For what purpose? What is their brief?
A: They are students collecting information for use in our brief of evidence. They are contracted directly to Sanfords to collect information for the statement of evidence.
Q: Will there be any more Sanfords’ Mitchell Partners’or Taylor Baines’people making observations in the bay?
A: Probably yes, you would need to contact Mitchell Partners.
Q: What is the likely social impact of the secrecy of Sanfords observers?
A: I have no idea. They are just counting the boats.
Q: On approximately September 27th Sanfords staff visited East Bay on a water taxi. The water taxi company was asked not to reveal who their client was. Why such secrecy?
A: I don’t know anything about that. I wasn’t contracted till the last week in December.
Q: What public relations resources have Sanfords committed to support their East Bay applications?
A: We are not involved in public relations.
Q: Are you aware of a Sanfords PR strategy with respect to mussel farm expansion?
Q: How long will you be working on the East Bay application?
A: Approximately 20 full days over a six to eight week period , including four days on site starting yesterday. I don’t know when the hearings are scheduled for yet,
Q: How much are you being paid for this work and by whom?
A: I will not reveal the contract price.
(Editors note: On the basis of an hourly rate of $100- $200 an hour for 20 days the contract price can be estimated at between $15,000 to $30,000 plus disbursements.)
FAREWELL: Good afternoon. Thank you for your cooperation. Here is a trespass order for you. Have a nice day.
DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST: The author of this
article, Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson, is related to
residents in Te Aroha Bay and is an objector to numerous
mussel farm applications for East Bay. He is not however an
objector to the Sanfords application.