Letters: Ban dangerous use of plant sprays

Tuesday October 29, 2019 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

I am writing to ask that the Department of Agriculture ban the abhorrent use of pesticides and herbicides by market growers in Rarotonga.


Akapuao, Teimurimotia – the food basket of Rarotonga, so touted – is riddled with poison. Pesticides and herbicides are in puddles on the side of the road, in our taro patches in our streams and in our lagoon.

On Wednesday and Thursday after a valiant desperate search through the night and day for our pet dogs, Kobe and Boss we found them dead by the plantation, poisoned, tongues blackened, eyes bulging, mouths foamed, bodies twisted and defecated and covered in a swarm of flies. They died together.

At the foot of our driveway leading up off the Ara Metua a puddle of water glistens prettily; blue, pink, yellow, green. An ominous large black drum and an empty chest freezer sit above it. The field of bok choy and lettuces hold three more yellow buckets.

We’re surrounded by market gardens. We see plumes of spray from the backpacks of the sprayer – he is gloved and sometimes wears a mask.

The wind is high. I tell him not to spray in the wind. The spray settles on the grass nearby, cats and dogs nibble on this. The spray drifts over to the neighbouring field where there are goats and pigs. It runs off, down the field into the taro patches.

And children play nearby. They’re guests at nearby holiday homes mine included.

We need urgent planning and restriction in place to keep our families, our guests and our pets safe from this poison- the careless wanton use of poison straight into roadside puddles, into taro patches into our streams and into our lagoons. What are we breathing in? What are we eating when these crops are harvested?

Stop the poison, and stop growing near residential homes.

We’re heartbroken. We’ve now lost three heathy dogs. We found Roxy the same way 10 months ago and our cats, Shellie and Nikki, foamed and twisted. And now our ginger cat Pandy, too.

When I saw the grower spraying on Tuesday, across the road in the plantation from my front door I waved to him to stop. He crouched down and then moved down to his tractor parked on the main road. I saw the arrival of the chest freezer and the black drum.

The puddle on the back road formed in that time.

Our dogs came back from a swim in the lagoon that evening. We didn’t see them on Wednesday.

On Thursday the sickening realisation and discovery after the flies rose, directly across from the very door I’d waved at the grower two days earlier. I’ve been waving for years.

Arama, I forbid you to spray in this area again!

I implore you Minister of Agriculture to please ban the use of pesticides and herbicides for good off our island, and restrict the commercial growing of market crops near residential homes.

Rest in peace dear Kobe and Boss, Roxy, Shellie, Nikki and Pandy and all the other beloved pets who have had their lives tragically cut short by poison.

Mary and Charlie Tapurau Hosking
Akapuao, Titikaveka

Leave a comment