WorkSafe will conduct spot testing of Northland kiwifruit orchards over the use of a toxic chemical. The chemical spray, known as "Hi-Cane", is legal but locals claim it's not being contained and may be leading to serious health issues. The Regional Council has stated it receives around 50 complaints of agri-chemical spraying each year.
Kerikeri resident John Levers has investigated the use of a chemical spray in Kerikeri for months. "All spray drift will be going into this waterway. There's native fish in here, there's the long-finned eels - which are quite rare," he told Newshub.
Kiwifruit growers use the spray at this time of year so the fruit is ready to pick all at once. Levers says the spray is drifting 'off' orchards. "If it can't be grown safely then it shouldn't be grown at all," he says. Local resident Leigh Bramwell is also fed up. She says when Hi-Cane is sprayed each year, it goes all over the place. "We need to see some kind of monitoring, people to come along and make sure that spray drift is not getting into the water.”
In a number of countries, Hi-Cane is banned but it's legal in New Zealand under strict conditions. Also known as Hydrogen Cyanamide, Hi-Cane was classified in the US as a low-grade carcinogen in 2014. It has since been 'reclassified'.
Guidelines by the Growers Association recommend spraying only take place within certain distances of roads, parks and waterways, and the use of high screens.