Thursday, December 1, 2016

Spray Fever: Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Spring: Agrichemical spraying season by Fairlie farmers: Leah & I were both poisoned by unknown sprayed agrichemicals during November 2016.

During spring, contractor vehicles with boom spray arms on both sides of the vehicle, like pterodactyls, roamed roads & farms, spraying herbicides to prepare paddocks for crop plantings, like wheat & canola.

Beside SH8, from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo, every plastic reflector pole, 50 m odd apart, had a border of white or orange sprayed, dead grass, as mechanical mowers were too cumbersome to mow around the plastic reflector poles. Masses of herbicide was sprayed by SH8, even before farmers sprayed their paddocks with agrichemicals.

In fact, grass around every road sign & 1000s of roadside, plastic reflectors all along SH8 from Timaru to Lake Tekapo, 100 kms odd, was sprayed white or yellow by herbicides. Ditto SH79, 45 kms, Geraldine to Fairlie, tourist route from Christchurch to Mackenzie Country. Timaru District Council, Mackenzie District Council & NZ Transport Authority had lots to answer for, as SH8 & SH79 were the main tourist routes from Canterbury Plains to Lake Tekapo & Mt Cook.

Leah commuted SH8 daily from Fairlie to Lake Tekapo School where she taught. A return trek of 90 kms / day. When Leah developed flu like symptoms, without coughing, snotting & sneezing, she phoned her homeopath friend in Christchurch, who told her many people were poisoned by spray drift during spring time. Leah's wheezy breathing & sore throat persisted for 2 weeks after the poisoning.

I was poisoned as follows:

Mon 28.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Morning: As usual, I drove Leah along SH8 to Kimbell to catch her school bus to Lake Tekapo. I drove back to Fairlie, did our washing & hung it out to dry in our garden.

Our rental was one of several, old, Flax Mill cottages on Talbot Rd in the middle of Fairlie Golf Course. Lining one side of the golf course, bordering every power pole & fence pole along Talbot Rd, there was orange, dead grass, sprayed to hell. Masses of sprayed weedkiller around every pole, every 14 m along Talbot Rd. At our garden back fence was a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass, about half a metre wide, sprayed to hell, where golf course mowers couldn't reach. All our neighbours' houses had a swathe of orange sprayed, dead grass by their back fences. The golf course car park, one house away from ours' was yellow, sprayed to hell with herbicide. Fairlie Golf Club had lots to answer for, as several roads with housing surrounded the golf course, subject to spray drift. During our 2.5 years' stay at Fairlie, so far we'd never received any warnings from Fairlie Golf Club nor Council about their spraying.

Afternoon: Picked up Leah at Kimbell & drove back to Fairlie. Both trips were hot & windy, so I drove with open car windows.

Evening. I developed flu like symptoms: Headache, weepy eyes, sore throat, weak muscles & joints. Dehydrated & feverish. No coughing, snotting, nor sneezing. Accelerated pulse & high blood pressure, like my head was going to burst. Restless night, tossing & turning in bed.

Tue 29.11.16. Hot, northwester day. Flu like symptoms again, as above. Drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School. I was too shot to climb Mt John, which I usually did on Tuesdays. I'm fit, rarely visit doctors & did lots of tramping on & near Mt Gerald Station during 2016, including tramping to 5 different mountain huts on 10 different occasions during the year.

Wed 30.11.16. Flu like symptoms reduced, persistent sore throat. Felt a bit better. Drove to Lake Tekapo & after school walked with Leah to Tekapo Spa to test my poisoned limbs. No problems there.

Thurs 01.12.16. Sore throat & flu like symptoms gone. I'd lost 1 kg body weight during the last 3 days. Hadn't a clue what the herbicides did to my body systems?

After a Google search, I realized on Monday, during, hot, windy weather, I'd somehow imbibed vaporised herbicide, either from vaporised herbicides beside SH8, like Roundup / glyphosate, or similar agrichemicals from the Fairlie Golf Course where we lived. Or Both.

Specific studies by captive govt or chemical industrial scientists touted the genetic safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate, but I found no studies giving the overall safety of humans to Roundup / glyphosate.

Wed 07.12.16. I walked Jack Lovelock Track on the west side of Fairlie, draining waters from Albury Range to Opihi River, east side of Fairlie. The walk, observing spray pollution, about 8 kms, as follows:

Mt Cook Rd, SH8: Road verges & parkland trees by Denmark St had sprayed borders. Public footpath between Alloway St & Nixons Rd turnoff, grass verges sprayed yellow. Halls Stream Bridge by Nixons Rd turnoff, grass sprayed yellow, both sides of stream by bridge abutments.

Nixons Rd: Public footpath, grass verges sprayed yellow. Alpaca Farm fence grass sprayed yellow the entire length from SH8 to the farm driveway & beyond. All road signs & roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow. Bridge abutment, grass borders sprayed yellow. Three paddocks sprayed, orange tinged. Other farm paddocks green. Farm driveways & letterbox pole borders sprayed yellow. Driveway garden & shelterbelt on one property was so over sprayed with weedkiller that the ground was bare.

Jack Lovelock Track. Crossed three fords amongst green paddocks. Three sprayed paddocks, orange tinged, seen near Albury Range in the west. Middle Ford Stream polluted with maroon spray, flushed from gorse sprayed by the stream & farm fences. Stream water was maroon coloured on the east side of Jack Lovelock Track. In the eastern distance, several sprayed paddocks were seen on Mt Michael, tinged orange. Most paddocks were green, expect for brown ploughed paddocks or greenish-yellow paddocks due to haymaking.

School Rd: Green paddocks. Several instances of yellow sprayed grass by the roadside stream, especially where farmers had diverted the roadside stream into paddocks to water sheep. Some yellow sprayed grass swathes beside the stream were hundreds of metres long. Farm driveways & village gardens, especially Struthers Ln & west end of Fairlie, near farm paddocks & streams, yellow sprayed grass. Roadside, plastic reflectors, grass borders sprayed yellow.

Fairlie & surrounding farm paddocks were thoroughly polluted by herbicide sprays, polluting soil, water, air & food chains,

Farmer of Middle Ford Stream, crossing Jack Lovelock Track & one of the School Rd farmers where the roadside stream & stream diversions were hidden by road berms looked like they'd got away with herbicide spray pollution for years. Those farmers didn't care two hoots about their pollution, nor the health & safety hazards caused to passersby or neighbours. I'd be wary of buying local lamb for my Xmas roast.

Of course There was the NZ Biosecurity Act 1993, & MBIE govt department bossing biosecurity. There were local WorkSafe advisors & technicians, commercial wholesalers & Crown research organizations making money out of agrichemicals & spraying, like wholesalers PGG Wrightson & Farmlands cooperative selling agrichemicals to farmers. And all the little, office scientists at AgResearch & Landcare Research pontificating in papers & websites about their agrichemical research. But all those govt, safety, commercial & research efforts did not stop Leah & me being poisoned by agrichemicals.

An article in The Fairlie Accessible discussed recent flash flooding down Regent St, School Rd & Princes St. Geoff Horter, Council Utilities Manager, Mackenzie District Council, implied it was OK to poison locals & pollute local water by spraying blocked drains. Geoff said: "Stormwater drains would also be sprayed annually to decrease the likelihood of vegetation contributing to future blockages."

Clean Green New Zealand? Ha!

Fri 09.12.16. Our Fairlie doctor diagnosed blepharitis on my right, lower eyelid, conjunctivitis on my right eye & some form of mass on my right lower eyelid. (Needed specialist surgery in Timaru). When I mentioned to my GP that I'd recently been poisoned by agrichemicals, he didn't blink. Not a word from the GP. His job depended on Spray Fever silence, as he & his Dr wife had lived & worked in Fairlie for decades, monopolizing Fairlie Clinic. The next closest GP was at Pleasant Point 40 kms away, or Geraldine 45 kms away. There was no Medical Clinic at Lake Tekapo.

Leah had recently visited a Timaru optometrist who'd diagnosed cataracts in both her eyes. Bar wearing specs, neither of us had eye problems before living amongst Fairlie sprayers.

Dec 2013 when I'd driven Leah to a Lake Tekapo School job interview I developed violent hay fever, causing me to sneeze day & night for two days. The next year while living at Fairlie, Dec Spray Fever time, I also had violent, sneezy hay fever for two days. Cause: Fairlie agrichemical spray drift we encountered en route to Lake Tekapo.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Cancer all clear given to weedkiller glyphosate by New Zealand scientific review (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Glyphosate (National Encephalopathy Foundation).

See PGG Wrightson.

See Farmlands cooperative.

See AgResearch.

See Landcare Research.



  1. Dear Mark....I have really enjoyed reading about SA. I lived in Cadogan Drive, Durban North for 3 years so I know Chelsea Drive well. The blog about your brother Fraser stopped along the way and I was wondering where he is now? What a sweetheart he seems to be.

    1. Glad you are enjoying my blog Sandra. Durban North is big in my life. I lived there for 26 years & returned often thereafter. Fraser is my brother's second name. He's still cared for by Pmb Mental Health at Sunnyside Farm, Bulwer. Go well.