Paritutu “Follow The Money”

“The Money”

This website is an archive research resource for issues relating to 1960 to 1972 Paritutu families and workers and their children and offspring (along with those elsewhere) who have suffered adverse effects from significant dioxin exposures, as well as their likely exposures the mixture of other chemicals released into their residential and industrial environments.

These families are left carrying the burden imposed on them by other New Zealander’s from the production of agrichemicals that improved N.Z’s primary production and therefore N.Z’s foreign exchange earnings. So much so that from 1969 a total of 116 IWD products were subsidized*FM01 by the Government. However, the families who lived around the plant, those who worked around the plant and the workers handling these products have been ignored, marginalised and even ridiculed by the dismissive reassurance responses of desk-bound Wellington officials eagerly*FM02 serving financial interests of successive governments.
In 1979, ‘Consultus’*FM03 (one of the first major PR companies in New Zealand) initial New Zealand job was the defence of the chemical 2,4,5,T, on behalf of IWD. New Zealand was at that time the highest per capita user of 2,4,5,T in the world. The herbicide defoliant 2,4,5-T used to clear scrub and weeds from N.Z grazing lands.
Neil Pearce

Dioxin contaminated 2,4,5-T was also a component of the controversial defoliant Agent Orange. New Zealand exposures and impacts have been noted as being relevant to the international Agent Orange debate by Professor Neil Pearce . The potential liabilities from the apparent effects in Vietnam*FM04 are huge and have been dominant in shaping Governmental denials and research. In particular the lack of research into intergenerational reproductive effects from maternal 2,4,5-T and TCDD exposures, such as those in Vietnam and 1960-1972 Paritutu.

A 1983 memo from the Executive Office of the USA President warned that pending*FM05 legislative proposals to compensate victims of Nuclear radiation and Agent Orange, “have enormous fiscal implications, potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Pres. Ronald Reagan

A 1984 memo from the Executive Office of the USA President also noted, “we will be in the tenuous position of denying dioxin exposure compensation to private citizens while providing benefits to veterans for in many instances lower levels of exposure.

In New Zealand the manufacture and use of 2,4,5-T was seen as essential to maintaining our agricultural sectors profitability. This meant that officials and scientists in the main took up positions defending the use of 2,4,5-T.
All though some other early 1970’s scientists such as Professor B Elliot and Dr R Mann identified and alerted the public and authorities to the potential of 2,4,5-T use in New Zealand to cause birth defects

In New Zealand and especially in New Plymouth in a country largely dependent on pastoral production Ivon Watkins and from 1964 Ivon Watkins Dow were perceived as the innovative Mr Dow*FM06 champions of the post World War II “grasslands revolution”. The use of agrichemicals such as BHC, DDT, Aldrin, Deildrin and in particular IWD 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D led to significant increases in primary production.


This led to many New Zealand institutions and individuals investing in the company and earning returns on their shareholdings. Unfortunately some local shareholders and officials may have lost perspective and been influenced by productive gains so much so they ignored the responsibilities of their influential positions within the local community, neglecting to notice early warning signs such as the very high 1965-1970 rates of birth defects, or by ignoring the trauma caused by the many premature diseases and deaths among 1960-1972 residents. Some examples of this possible loss of objectivity are the 1960’s Obstetrician*FM07 and from 2000 to 2006 nine dismissive editorials*FM08 on this issue by the local Newspaper. Both held significant 1960’s shareholdings.*FM09 

The local Council obviously had and has strong interests in encouraging industries that create new employment for the regions residents. However in the case of IWD the council went somewhat further, for example at a March 1967 hearing on re-zoning in Paritutu, a Councillor (and local doctor) was reported in the Taranaki Herald (21.3.1967) stating that there was an odour problem relating to the use of phenols that was under investigation but there were “no hazards*FM10 from then current operations. The Councillor was also reported as stating that the obnoxious elements were deflected away from residential area towards the sea (to Centennial Drive industrial & Port areas)*map by Mt Moturoa.
By the mid 1960’s the NPCC were aware of the corrosive effects of IWD discharges on council sewer pipes and by 1967 the dangers from IWD liquid wastes discharged onto the beach at Paritutu were also noted in official documents, however the IWD liquid waste discharges onto the beach (which were in breach of the outfalls marine permit) were allowed to continue through until at least 1972.
More recently from 2000 to 2002 the New Plymouth District Council provided support to residents concerned about property prices and funded community enhancement projects. However the NPDC totally ignored and also actively marginalized the 1960 to 1972 residents some of whom had lost multiple family members across multiple generations by only encouraging studies to reassure recent residents and the wider city, but not on those most exposed.
Peter Tennant

Ministry of Health files note that in 2004 when elevated TCDD was detected in historic residents the Mayor*FM11 and local hotel owner Peter Tennant was not keen on having a public meeting, as he was concerned the issue may become political and he wished to avoid that, with elections looming, as ESR social scientist V Baker noted, ” the NPDC and other local authorities , for instance, were interested in maintaining New Plymouth’s image as a clean and safe tourist destination.

The Taranaki Regional Council also took a public relations approach public relations approach*FM12 by accentuating positive and eliminating any negative information, the TRC CEO Basil Chamberlin even issued misleading*FM13 responses to protect the image of New Plymouth*FM14

Basil Chamberlin

An example of this approach was the TRC 2001 report which primarily focused on investigating 2001 risks from several hundred tonnes of historic onshore buried wastes, yet remarkably described the Paritutu and Elliot Street marine outfalls as only discharging Ivon Watkins and IWD storm-water and occasional spills.

By example neglecting to mention the annual 1978 discharge of approximately 105,000 tonnes of liquid wastes from chemical manufacture, containing around 2900 tonnes of suspended and dissolved solids and 27 tonnes of phenols. The 1960 to 1987 marine discharges were the primary (yet largely ignored) Ivon Watkins and IWD waste discharges and IWD had only installed liquid waste treatment in the early 1980s, twenty years after commencing operations at Paritutu Road.

The Power Players in this Story

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