Councillor Phone Email
Mark Farnsworth


09 431 5438 markf@nrc.govt.nz
Ian Walker

Deputy Chairman

09 408 0072 pingut@ihug.co.nz
Craig Brown 09 432 7575 cae.brown@xtra.co.nz
Lorraine Hill 09 403 7504 lorrainehill8@xtra.co.nz
Peter Jensen 09 437 6386 peterje@clear.net.nz
Bill Rossiter 09 437 2807 billr@igrin.co.nz
Joe Carr 09 401 9197 carr.clan@farmside.co.nz
John Bain 0274 961 894 jbain@internet.co.nz

WDC Mayor and Councillors

Click the appropriate name to view further information about the Mayor and Councillors.



For a copy of the new (November 2004) GE FREE kit

“How to Lobby your Local and Regional Council”  (one free version, another kit costs $35)

Contact: Kara Vandeleur kara@wetafx.co.nz   H: 04 801 7121  W: 04 387 5785

Tips on lobbying local government to stop release of GE/GMOs (and GE field trials) in your District/Region:

Remember, communities and regions should have the right to decide their own future. Regional Exclusion Zones were a term coined by the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification (in its 2001 report) in order to "preserve opportunities and choice" for all New Zealanders.

We believe local authorities should have the ability to determine independently of ERMA the potential economic impact of a particular GE release on its territory and exercise control over whether or not it should be permitted. 

There is a strong desire among many Northlanders to prohibit GMO land use in our Region, due to the serious risks to our economy, key markets and unique environment. There is serious concern that "conditional" release and commercial release of GMO's is not practical or desirable.  The government has also failed to put in place a truly strict liability regime, to ensure that the polluter shall pay for unintended and unforeseen adverse effects of GE field trials or crops.

Those who wish to engage in controversial GE applications or releases should not have the right to impose unacceptable risks, costs and liabilities on to others.

Environment Bay of Plenty (Regional Council) has warned a Parliamentary select committee (1 August 2003) that the "consequences of incorrect action may be irreversible" if a moratorium on release of genetically modified organisms is lifted in October

Allowing GE releases or GMO land use risks a major decline in agricultural trade and loss of our "clean green" and "100% Pure" image.



1.         Obtain a copy of the two new Sustainability Council of NZ documents and make sure your local councillors  are  familiar with it


Where Local Government Picks Up

(Communities and their elected representatives face a new resource management issue: the outdoor production of genetically modified (GM) food varieties


4 pages


Frequently Asked Questions About GM, GM Foods and Managing GM in the Community


2. Write to your local Regional Council and District Council and ask them to include you (or your group or organisation) in the community outcomes process (consultation process) for the Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP). Although the first round of consultation has already taken place, you can still formally request to be included in further consultation.

Ask for a copy of the councils "Policy of Significance", then scrutinize it to see if it mentions GENETIC ENGINEERING.

Ask your council to prohibit GMO land use in your District and for GE to be classed a "Matter of Significance".

Ie. "In light of the new legislation on genetic engineering/GMOs, and the serious risks GE represents to our economy and environment, as a council you may wish to initiate a plan change prohibiting any release of GMOs".

See Kaipara Council Press Release on GE (
27 June 2003) "Kaipara Gets Strong on GE"    http://www.kaipara.govt.nz/media.php?p=1&m=180    and

"Regional council warns of possible "irreversible consequences" if GMO moratorium lifted"  (1 August 2003 Press Release, Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Council) - http://www.envbop.govt.nz/publications/media/030801ac.doc


In view of the Local Government Act 2002, there is a much stronger emphasis and requirement for council to consult with community and reflect community views.

This provides for local authorities to "play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach" (S3(d)).

It is of critical importance that local government take action now to keep our region free of GMO’s, to preserve our future options and key markets and protect ratepayers from hazardous new technologies.

3. You can ask your District Council to make a change to their District Plan and adopt the following options:

A)           SYMBOLIC STANCE  

Declare __________ District a GE FREE ZONE (along the lines of Waitakere District, Nelson, Napier and Buller)


Make a variation to your District Plan classing GE experiments/commercial release (outside the strict containment of the laboratory) as

i.              a Prohibited Activity; or

ii.             a Non-complying/Discretionary Activity that would require public notification and a Resource Consent

If GE is not to be prohibited then all persons who are likely to be affected, in any way, must be notified.

Please note that an effective combination could include a symbolic GE FREE stance with regulation through the District Plan (preferably classing GE as a Prohibited activity).

(Regional Councils go through a different process, involving a Plan change although they do not have a District Plan.- they have a Regional Plan, Air Quality and Soil & Water Plan).

4. You can also send your local Regional Council and District Council a detailed list of questions regarding GE (note that the 2 sets of questions are slightly different, tailored for Regional Councils or District councils). Email: zlg@xnet.co.nz or ring 09 4322155 for the set of detailed GE questions.

5. Ask your local District and Regional Council to fund a “Risk Evaluation & Options Report” on GMOs (as Waitakere City Council, Rodney, Kaipara, Whangarei and Far North District Councils  recently commissioned)



The Far North District Council has joined Whangarei, Kaipara, and

Rodney District and Waitakere City Councils to support and jointly

fund a Risks and Options Report on Genetic Engineering in the

Northland peninsula. (10 September 2004, the Bay Chronicle)


This will detail the risks of GMOs to our unique geographical region- our unique biodiversity, key markets, economy, brand, primary producers, local iwi, etc.

6. Write to the Prime Minister Helen Clark, Minister of Science and Technology Pete Hodgson, Minister of the Environment Marion Hobbs and Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton (freepost  c/o Parliament Buildings, Wellington) Make it clear you do not want GE crops or experiments in your Region. Ask for REGIONAL EXCLUSION ZONE (for GMO land use) designation. Demand a truly strict liability regime for GMOs.

For more information, please contact:

Zelka Grammer
(Chairperson, GE FREE NORTHLAND in Food & Environment)
tel. 09 4322155 (Whangarei)  
email: zlg@xnet.co.nz    



Private Bag 9021 
TEL. 09 438 4639        FAX. 09 438 0012 
Call free 0 800 002 004
Email:  mailroom@nrc.govt.nz
Chairman Mark Farnsworth email: markf@nrc.govt.nz
CEO Warren Maclennan      email:  warrenm@nrc.govt.nz

Forum North
Private Bag 9023   Whangarei
TEL. 09 430 4200    FAX. 09 438 7632  
Email: mailroom@wdc.govt.nz
Mayor Pamela Peters email:  triciac@wdc.govt.nz
General Manager Mark Simpson email: laurelle@wdc.govt.nz
Environmental Services Manager Ian McCalley   email:  ianm@wdc.govt.nz

Private Bag 1001
Dargaville 0300
TEL. 09 439 7059    FAX. 09 439 6756   Call free 0800 727 059
Mayor Peter King
General Manager Jack McKercher
Communications and Services Leader Claire McInness  email:  cmciness@kaipara.govt.nz
Regulatory Leader- Mark Vincent
Senior Environmental Policy Planner - Brendan Neal   email: council@kaipara.govt.nz

Memorial Ave
Private Bag 752    Kaikohe
TEL. 09 405 2750  FAX. 09 401 2137   Call free 0 800 920 029
Mayor Yvonne Sharp email:  yls@fndc.govt.nz   cc:   rah@fndc.govt.nz
Senior Environmental Policy Planner Alison Newell   email:  Alison.Newell@fndc.govt.nz

General Manager Clive Manley   email:  cam@fndc.govt.nz
District Secretary Graham Carman  email:  gjc@fndc.govt.nz
Environmental Services Manager Pam Greenfield   email: pjg@fndc.govt.nz


While Rodney District is technically not part of Northland (the area falling under the jurisdiction of Auckland Regional Council) it is heartening to hear they are taking steps towards becoming a more eco-friendly district. Along with Waitakere City Council, they are our "good neighbors" to the south.  Rodney is an official "organic friendly District" and is considering extending that to incorporate a GE free designation as well. 

Since the recent GE public meeting at Orewa (2nd September 2003), at which Mayor Graeme Ramsey of Kaipara and Northland Regional Council Chairman Mark Farnsworth spoke about their concerns about GE and local government policy, Rodney District Council is considering align its GE policies with its neighbours to the north and west.  Now is a great time to make your concerns known to the Mayor and your elected ward representatives  about GMO land use.     

Private Bag 500  OREWA
TEL.  09 426 5169      FAX.  09 426 0211
Mayor John Law email:  jlaw@rodney.govt.nz    cc: vshanley@rodney.govt.nz
CEO Wayne Donnelly email: donellw@rodney.govt.nz
Group Manager Environmental Services Geoff Mears email gmears@rodney.govt.nz

GE FREE RODNEY- contact  
Chris cooper  phone/fax  09 420 5165 (Kaukapakapa)  email: c-cooper@clear.net.nz
Jean Bell   email:  palumbo@nznet.gen.nz    Margaret Alyward  09 424 2048   (Whangaparoa)

http://www.arc.govt.nz/        email: info@arc.govt.nz 
tel. 09 366 2000     Fax 09 366 2155


Put pressure on the Northland Regional Council to act in a manner in keeping with its adopted Long Term Council Community Plan re: GMOs- ie. A strong precautionary approach and investigation of the risks of GMO land use to the region..

 As you may know, there are a whole range of risks to be examined (the NRC is charged with the sustainable management of resources in the region) including GMO contaminants, discharges, and economic, cultural, and ethical issues. Protection of biodiversity and finite resources in this region is of course of great importance to our organisation.

Send them a strong message that you will not tolerate any future GE field trials or commercial crops in Northland.  The NRC has recently taken a number of positive actions regarding GE, with the Chairman Mark Farnsworth actively advocating a precautionary and conservative approach to GE (and even banning GE field trials).  See the Chairmans Report (24 June 2003) "Northland Regional Council's Approach to Genetically Modified Organisms" below.

In addition, it clearly states in the NRC adopted Long Term Council Community Plan (in response to the many anti GMO submissions made) that “the Regional Council is a member of a Northland inter-council working group to discuss a common approach to the management of genetically modified organisms in Northland. Until the group has completed its work, the council has decided to adopt a precautionary approach. This means that there should be no further development and field testing of transgenic organisms envisaged for agriculture, horticulture and forestry in Northland, nor any commercial release, until such time as the risk potential has been adequately identified and evaluated and a strict liability regime put in place.”

It also states on p. 43 (under “Measuring progress”) that the following indicator will be used to track the community’s progress towards achieving this community outcome:

“No GE applications approved by ERMA for Northland until the risk potential has been adequately identified and evaluated, and a strict liability regime put in place.”


GE-Related Changes Adopted in First 'Northland Community Plan'  (Northland Regional Council Press Release, 23 June 2004)


The NRC needs to go further however, and protect the environment and  ratepayers from hazardous new technologies by putting in place an actual policy change to the Regional Plan  prohibiting GMO land use in our Region.

Recent developments:

At the most recent NRC full council meeting (l7 November) in Whangarei, a resolution was passed that "the Northland Regional Council gives support in principle to the work being carried out by the territorial authorities in relation to genetic engineering"


"that the Northland Regional Council continues to work with other Regional Councils to seek clarification of regional council roles and responsibilities in the management of genetically modified organisms."

We strongly support points 2 & 3 of this resolution.  We urge the NRC to not only work with other councils and Local Government NZ to seek clarification of regional councils roles and responsibilities in the management of genetically modified organisms but for the NRC to take a leading role in the commissioning of this important work.

It is imperative that a legal opinion be obtained on the role of regional authorities regarding GMO land use (as proposed by Local Government NZ and Environment Bay of Plenty) as quickly as possible.

As you know, there are a whole range of risks to be examined (the NRC is charged with the sustainable management of resources in the region) including GMO contaminants, discharges, and

economic, cultural, and ethical issues. Protection of biodiversity and finite resources in this region is of course of great importance to our organisation.

We note that in the NRC adopted Long Term Council Community Plan it states (p. 41):

"there should be no further development and field testing of transgenic organisms envisaged for agriculture, horticulture and forestry in Northland, nor any commercial release, until the risk potential has been adequately identified and evaluated and a strict liability regime put in place".

For the NRC to contribute financially to ensure that the Local Government NZ proposed legal opinion on the role of regional authorities re: GMO land use (including: GMO's as a potential contaminant, discharges and so forth) is commissioned would be an excellent way of "adequately identifying and evaluating" the risk potential of GMOs for Northland (and other regions).

The NRC has a legal obligation to protect finite resources like soils & protect biodiversity under the Resource Management Act.  In their Annual Plan (2001-2002) they state (in their Vision for the Region) the following ideals:


Ecosystems, indigenous vegetation and fauna, and their significant habitats, protectedThe biodiversity of Northland is maintained.  


Land with productive soils, free from accelerated erosion and harmful CONTAMINANTS.  

AIR  :

Clean air free from harmful contaminants.  

Hold them to it!   
Evidence and experience from overseas strongly indicates that GE is incompatible with conventional farming, Integrated Pest Management systems and organic farming.

In our view, Northland should be classed a REGIONAL EXCLUSION ZONE for GMO land use (in order to protect our unique environment, quality primary production, and growing organic industry and tourism).  This distinction could be written into regional or district plans, just as industrial use is separated from residential use.


The Northland Regional Council's Approach To Genetically Modified Organisms

File 900.14.1

Report from the Chairman dated 24 June 2003.

Over the past two years, the Northland Regional Council has had numerous approaches over the need for a policy on the management and control of genetically modified organisms.  At the last two Annual Plan hearings, the Council has been actively lobbied to ensure that the Northland region becomes a GE-free environment. 

The recent debate on the subject at a GE Conference at Kaikohe clearly demonstrated that the scientific community is highly polarised on this matter. 

There are two clear camps:  Those who see the benefits that can result from GE; versus those that can see the potential harm that can result from the use of the technology. 

Given this environment it is almost impossible for councils to make an informed decision on the matter.  Up to now this Council has supported the moratorium, adopting a "wait and see" approach and has indicated that it expects that the matter will be regulated by clear policy direction and resourcing from central government.  The Government have been slow in addressing the matter.  Attached to this report is a piece of work commissioned by Environment BOP on the subject and a legal opinion from Cooney Lees Morgan.  The Environment BOP report highlights the conundrum that councils face.  It is evident that there are a series of unanswered questions that need to be addressed, especially in the areas of liability, control and risk.  Risk in particular has yet to be quantified.

It has been noted to Council that it may have responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 for the regulation of GMOs in Northland.  Cooney Lees Morgan provides a highly qualified legal opinion on this matter.  If it is accepted that Council may have responsibility, then the most prudent course of action is for the Council to take a precautionary approach - GM trials should remain strictly controlled in the laboratory.

Once the fundamental questions of risk, liability and control have been addressed, then the Council will be in a position to re-address the matter.

If the Council accepts the premise that GMOs are a central government matter, I still suggest that the Council accepts the view that under the fundamental questions have been addressed, GM trials should remain in the laboratory.

GM has the potential to be both a good genie and a bad genie.  We need to be very sure of our ground before we move forward to encourage GM field trials in Northland.





3 July 2003

Northland Regional Council Chairman's Report on GE identifies the need for a Precautionary approach

Northland Regional Council released a report on Genetically Modified Organisms this week, in which Chairman Mark Farnsworth states that the "most prudent course of action is for the Council to take a precautionary approach- GM trials should remain strictly controlled in the laboratory."

GE FREE NORTHLAND spokesperson Zelka Grammer said today she applauded the leadership of the NRC Chairman on this critical issue, at a time when the Labour led government continues to ignore the concerns of both eminent scientists and the majority of New Zealanders about the environmental and economic uncertainties of the use of GMO's outside the strict containment of the laboratory.

A further resolution passed yesterday by full council (to lobby central government over its concerns about areas of liability, control and risk of GMOs) shows that local authorities don't have to wait for central Government to decide the future of their communities.

This responsible approach to environmental protection coincides with the release of an independent review which questions the capability of the Government's environmental watchdog to regulate genetically engineered crops and animals.

The report also highlights serious gaps in ERMA's ability to deal with the range of issues it is supposed to administer under the HSNO act. In particular the lack of ecological, strategic, social science expertise and ethical perspectives has alarmed independent scientists and the community as it has led to ERMA compromising the Precautionary Principle.

"ERMA is shown to be in no position to look after the national interest if the moratorium on GE release is allowed to lapse," says Zelka Grammer from GE FREE NORTHLAND (in Food & Environment).

The review goes on to identify concerns over monitoring, and co-ordinating compliance with relevant legislation. It also points to tensions in the relationship between ERMA and the Ministry for the Environment over controls and monitoring, and says it is in this area that the system of risk management for new organisms is most vulnerable.

The report said there was poor oversight by ERMA of compliance and monitoring of conditions set on GE approvals, and poor coordination between ERMA and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) -- which enforces the conditions set by ERMA.

The report adds new evidence supporting the extension of the moratorium on GE applications. The public have been shown to be correct in not placing blind trust in organizations like ERMA and MAF.

The public of New Zealand need legislation that requires ERMA to protect our environment from GE contamination and acknowledge regional choices to prohibit GE primary production.

It is now the responsibility of MP's passing the "New Organisms and Other Matters" Bill to ensure this happens.

Contact:  Zelka Grammer, Chairperson GE FREE NORTHLAND (in Food & Environment)
09 432 2155



WHANGAREI DISTRICT COUNCIL adopted LONG TERM COUNCIL COMMUNITY PLAN (LTCCP) states: “Council will adopt a precautionary approach to the management of biotechnology in general and GMO land uses in particular. It will continue to investigate ways of maintaining the district’s environment free of GMOs until the outstanding issues such as liability, economic costs and benefits, environmental risks, and cultural effects are resolved.”

On p. 62 (under PLANNING- Key Projects) it states “A discussion paper, including a legal opinion, addressing the ability of the council to regulate Genetically Modified Organisms has been obtained in conjunction with other Northland local government authorities. Further discussions will be taking place with the community and central government on this matter.”

Well done WDC!

Kaipara Gets Strong on GE

The Kaipara District Council has decided to limit the release of Genetically Engineered Organisms within the Kaipara District after the lifting of the moratorium which is due later this year.  It has requested that its staff report to the August Council meeting on the methods which can be used and their likely effectiveness.

"This is a bold move for a conservative rural Council" according to Mayor Graeme Ramsey.  "Two years ago such a decision would have been rejected but today the level of concern is so great that there was little doubt that something needed to be done."

Council debated a number of options.  It rejected the option of  doing nothing as it believed that its role was to provide leadership within the community.  Likewise it decided not to declare Kaipara a GE free area as this is largely a symbolic gesture.  Rather, Council decided on a "precautionary" approach of seeking a means to limit the release of GMOs. 

Mayor Graeme Ramsey told Council that after Council's own research, and a considerable number of submissions and correspondence, it was time for Council to decide on a direction.  "Scientific evidence is clearly divided and it does not provide a basis for decision making.  Likewise the economic benefit is doubtful.  While Council's legal position is unclear, as a community and a District we need more debate upon the subject.  To do so we will need more time.  Rushing into the release of GMOs will not provide the time necessary for the community to have such a debate".

Councillors in the debate pointed out that Kaipara is a food producing District therefore the issue was more than academic. 

Several said that decisions such as this cannot be left to scientists'.  Rather these decisions need to be taken by ordinary people using a range of criteria. 

"This approach, which may commit the Council to the expenditure of money, is the most prudent approach in the face of a government which appears to be charging headlong into this area on the basis of very divided evidence."

"This is a momentous decision.  We recognise and accept the need to provide leadership.  We hope in doing so to stimulate the debate on the subject that is needed within our community", said Mayor Ramsey.

Contact Numbers :
Graeme Ramsey    025 748202 & 09 439 5668


Our response:


GE Free Northland, 28th June  2003

GE FREE NORTHLAND applauds Kaipara District Council GE decision

Kaipara District Council signalled its strong opposition to genetic engineering this week, voting to limit the release of Genetically Engineered Organisms within the District.

GE FREE NORTHLAND spokesperson Zelka Grammer said today she applauded the much needed leadership of the Mayor and full council on this critical issue, at a time when the Labour government continues to ignore the concerns of both eminent scientists and the majority of New Zealanders.

The move by Kaipara Council shows that local authorities don't have to wait for central Government to decide on the future of their communities.

Councillor Bruce Rogan is correct when he states that ordinary sensible citizens- rather than scientists and businessmen- should make decisions on GE on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

Kaipara District Council obviously recognizes the significant threat to local primary producers from GE experiments and crops whose pollen and seeds can spread via the wind, soil and farm machinery. We hope that Whangarei District Council, Far North District Council and Northland Regional Council will emulate Kaipara's precautionary and conservative stance and act swiftly to protect ratepayers from hazardous new technologies like GE.

Northland is a prime candidate for REGIONAL EXCLUSION ZONE designation, due to its geographical location and the risks GE presents to our economy and environment.

The majority of New Zealanders don't want to eat genetically engineered food, and they don't want genetically engineered organisms released into their backyard.

Without a strict liability regime, innocent third parties and local authorities remain at risk. Liability for unforeseen adverse effects of GE needs to be satisfactorily resolved before any release of GMOs occur.

See "NZ Law Commission Report on Liability/GE" 

Contact: Zelka Grammer, Chairperson
GE FREE NORTHLAND (in Food & Environment)
09 432 2155

Martin Robinson
09 407 8650