Police receive criticism after cannabis spraying incident

By Jessica Tyson

Waikato Police officers have received criticism after a video of officers conducting a spraying operation from a Coromandel beach went viral on Facebook.

Resident Whetu Paitai uploaded the video to Facebook after he and his tamariki visited Kennedy Bay on Monday.

“When my kids and I saw the helicopter land we went down to the beach where we guessed it landed to get a picture of it," he says.  

“What we found was a group of officers that had blocked vehicle entrance to the beach and were refilling their helicopter and weed killer spray bucket on the beach at high tide, with absolutely no protective mats or measures to protect our beach from spills or accidents.”

Paitai asked the officers what chemicals they were using and one officer said it was "nothing, just dye and water".

“I took a photo of the container and googled them to find they were a weed killer called Bio-Safe from AGPRO. They have a hazchem code of 2XE which means any waste material is to be contained and removed to be correctly disposed of, as opposed to material that you can just dilute down,” he says.

In response, a police spokesperson told our online news team the spray used only affects plants and has no residual impact on the soil.

“A blue marker dye, which is non-toxic and environmentally safe, is used to alert growers to the fact that a plant has been sprayed,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Even so, police are conscious of the environment and promptly cleaned up the area.”

Safety data sheet for AGPRO Bio-Safe. Source: AGPRO

Paitai says after most of the officers left the scene, one officer found a large paper bag and started scraping contaminated sand into it.

“I then noticed his mate trying to kick sand over other areas that were contaminated. I told him not to cover it up, that he needs to do it properly. In the end they left but there was still contaminated sand and it is right where all our kids do their sand castles and play tag with each other,” says Patai.

Paitai’s video has received almost 15,000 views overnight. In it he is calling for an apology from police “and some assurances that this group of officers are made aware of this complaint, and are well trained before carrying out any more activities in this bay again.”

“We do not want to be policing the police every time they come into our bay.”