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Minister comments on Waiheke Island situation

Minister comments on Waiheke Island situation

It was a relief to be able to ease back on emergency response measures against a claimed foot and mouth disease outbreak, Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton said the receipt of a second letter, claiming the release of foot and mouth disease on Waiheke Island had not happened, reinforced a conviction that this was a hoax. As well, surveillance shows no sign of the disease.

"Nevertheless, a prudent watching brief would be maintained for a while yet."

He thanked the farmers and community of Waiheke Island who had been superb under extreme pressure.

"This scare has caused tremendous inconvienience and stress for farmers who have been barred from moving stock off the island at a time when feed is short, and who have had to get their stock into yards to be regularly tested by vets and field technicians.

"I am incredibly impressed with how they have handled the whole situation, and all of New Zealand owes them a debt of gratitude."

Mr Sutton said the media had generally handled the scare responsibly as well, which had made it easier to ensure that foreign governments received a clear message about what was happening on Waiheke Island.

He said trading partners had responded in a positive and trusting way, which New Zealand appreciated.

"Being open and transparent was the way to handle this, and events have borne that out."

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