Silver Fern Farms fined for toxic spill in Hawera

By Te Ao - Māori News

A leading meat processing company has been fined $330,000 for spilling toxic ammonia into the atmosphere and local stream in Hawera.

Silver Fern Farms has received the biggest fine in New Zealand history under the Resource Management Act for the toxic discharge into the air and and the Tawhiti stream in 2020. 

Te Runanga o Ngāti Ruanui in Taranaki has welcomed the Environment Court decision. 

Rūnanga spokesperson Haimona Maruera says the sentencing was difficult to listen to given the system errors and lack of environmental awareness described over the years at Silver Fern Farms.

"This was preventable," Maruera says.

Silver Fern Farms is now working with Ngati Ruanui on how to restore the Tawhiti Stream. But Maruera says there is a long journey ahead.

"The awa is part of us," he says.

"It is our past, our present and future. Restoration and repopulation of treasured species will be at the heart to the work ahead of us over the next several years."

Maruera says this should also be a wake-up call for all older industrial sites and especially those close to waterways.

"We are pleased that the courts are now giving environmental negligence the rightful penalties along with listening to iwi and hapu in our kaitiakitanga role."