Great Barrier Island - home to about 700 facinating, friendly, fulltime residents - is positioned about 100k's off Auckland's eastern coast.
We were told that about 70% of the island is owned by DoC (tax payers), and apart from keeping the campsites in good order, DoC are also charged with managing the rodent population. (Along with the locals, not to forget.)
The island doesn't have possums, but they do have rats, and it's the method of controlling these rats that is the cause of much debate.
Brodificoum is used in baits stations on the island, and although bait stations are a more responsible way of delivering the killer food to the rats (as apposed to aerial distribution), Brodificoum is an accumulative poison, and causes secondary poisoning in non-target species scavenging on dead, and dying rats. So this was the main issue raised at the screening.
Steve and I were invited over, by island dweller Tony Storey, to introduce the second run of Poisoning Paradise.
One head count put the number of attendies at over 80, which is over 10% of the homo-sapien population - but one thing's for sure, the joint was packed!
The after film debate went really well. John Ogden, a trustee of Great Barrier Island Charitable Trust, was probably the most outspoken of the opposition, in attendance.
We met with John, just prior to leaving the island, to further discuss our points of view. As is often the case with opposition, we agree on most things.
But more importantly, we discussed the new rat poison being developed by Landcare Research, which is designed to kill only rats. This is exciting because other non-target animals, birds and organisms aren't in danger of unintended intoxication.
This is a perfect option for islands like Great Barrier, and one we hope to see pursued.
At the end of the day, as ugly as the content of the Poisoning Paradise documentary is, once open minded viewers get the picture of how irresponsible the aerial application of secondary causing poisons is - and that poisoning unknown numbers of birds, bats, insects, reptiles, aquatic life, deer, live stock, pets, people, and the other 50,000 multi cellular species inhabiting our forests - they often become aware that this practice must stop, and then the alternative methods of pest control can be refined, and employed.
This country has the alternatives, we have the man power and the budgets to develop them. Let's stop this aerial poisoning practice now, before the irriversable damage caused, becomes emense.
A big thanks to Tony Storey for organising the event. Thanks also to the Barrier Bulletin for their promotion, the Claris sports centre for hosting the event, to Richard Somerville-Ryan for chairing the debate, and to Nikki, from Sunbeam Sanctuary, for providing accomodation.