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Painted Apple Moth spray campaign was vital

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

12 November 2007

Painted Apple Moth spray campaign was vital

The Painted Apple Moth spray campaign was vital to protect the iconic native forest of the Waitakere Ranges, Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said today.

It had also been carried out because of concerns for public health, including the extreme allergic reactions most people tended to have to the caterpillars of the moth.

Jim Anderton rejected findings by a “people’s inquiry” into the spray campaign that alleges the West Auckland community was seriously damaged by the programme to eradicate the invasive foreign moth.

He said the community had been involved in the programme from the start, and all steps had been taken to avoid aerial spraying, which had prolonged the programme. Ground spraying had been ultimately unsuccessful. The subsequent aerial programme was successful in eradicating the painted apple moth.

“Surveys of the West Auckland community carried out for MAF throughout the programme were overwhelmingly supportive and understood why the spray programme was being done.

“However, a small group of activists opposed it, regardless of whatever MAF did to meet their needs.”

Jim Anderton said a health assessment was done of the West Auckland population before the spray campaign started.

The impact on the health of a small proportion of the community with pre-existing health conditions, such as allergies to components of the spray, were recognised from the start and a health service put in place. Millions of dollars were spent on accommodation, food, and healthcare, to make sure people did not have to be exposed to the spray if they had concerns.

“This Government was deeply concerned for the people of West Auckland and ensured that they could be looked after.”

He said that biosecurity was vitally important for New Zealand’s economic, social, and environmental well-being, and sometimes major steps had to be taken to ensure that our way of life was protected.

“These moths could have done real damage to our native plants. As a former Aucklander, I know just how important the Waitakere Ranges are to Aucklanders, and Cabinet was well aware of that when we made the decision to try to eradicate the painted apple moth.”

Biosecurity NZ, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, had responsibility to protect human life and native species from foreign pests and diseases, as well as production species.

“Biosecurity measures are not just in place to maintain our dairy, meat, wool, and timber exports. They’re also there to maintain our way of life. Should the painted apple moth or the red fire ant, for example, get established in New Zealand, that will have drastic impacts on our ability to enjoy the outdoors lifestyle so many of us currently enjoy.”

Jim Anderton said he had yet to receive a copy of the “people’s inquiry” report, which had been sent to the media on the weekend.

“I will make a formal response when I do get a full copy.”

ENDS

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