On Friday, June 15, a double-barrelled hikoi commenced simultaneously from Bluff and Cape Reinga, with the intention of walking to Parliament in a peaceful protest to ban the use of 1080.
One half of the hikoi arrived in Wanaka on July 3. Organiser Alan Gurden from the West Coast began the southern leg with about 15 people. He intends to walk through areas of the country such as Luggate and the West Coast where 1080 aerial drops are imminent.
The northern leg was begun by Alan's counterpart Emille Leaf, who is following in the footsteps of his aunt Dame Whina Cooper who led the Maori Land Hikoi of 1975.
Alan said the response to the march so far has been overwhelming, with over 70 percent of motorists honking or gesturing positively and supporters stopping to offer koha and food which Alan described as “awesome”. But he said they have received deaths threats and someone had tried to run him down on the road.
Alan believed that he was poisoned early on in life as he has spent his adult life very sick. His wife has also suffered on more than one occasion from drinking the water supply, and he said his son was “poisoned in the womb”.
“My wife has had 17 laparoscopic surgeries and a lifetime of pain and misery because she was given endometriosis from this poison. One of the chief side effects for women, it affects their reproductive organs,” Alan said
It took them 10 years of trying to have a child and when they finally did they believe their son was poisoned in the womb, due to fused ribs and other physical problems.
“We’ve had  bombed on us for years and years up at Blackball and the West Coast in general and we’ve watched people die in our community every time they do a drop,” Alan said. “Some horrible cancers that eat you within 12 weeks, heart attacks and motor neurone disease in most communities. Tourists have been killed by this and they’re covering it up. Our government seems hell bent on supporting this empire of poison - it can be called nothing else.”
The two men were walking to parliament because they were “sick of the corruption” and so decided to make a pact to get rid of the chemical.
“We’re trying to get international pressure on our government and get NZ to come and stand with us united. And say we’ve had enough, we’re not putting up with this anymore. It’s a sinister chemical warfare on people of this country, ” Alan said.
They hope to gain a complete ban of 1080 use in NZ, and the aerial application of any toxin and hope that more supporters will join them, particularly on the stretch into Wellington.
Pictured: The hikoi arrived in Wanaka on Tuesday. Pictured at the Hawea turnoff are Alan Gurden (left) and Phil Paterson. Photos: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun
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