Cuzzie cones get message across

Cuzzie cones are poised to become common sights along Bay of Plenty roads after Te Puna was chosen to trial a simple but effective method to warn passersby of hazardous spraying.

They were so successful in alerting people to hi-cane that the inspiration behind the cones, Te Puna author Tommy Kapai Wilson, now wants to see them introduced everywhere that people were at risk from dangerous sprays.

He praised the regional council's pollution prevention manager Nick Zaman for having the vision to see exactly what he was talking about and rolling out the idea.

Mr Wilson said the problem with the old system of warning passersby was that stapling a small card to a pole went unnoticed by most people - particularly children.

"By the time you get close enough to read the sign, you are zapped anyway."

Frustration with the signs and mounting complaints led Mr Wilson to suggest something that people could not help but notice - giving them time to give the orchard a wide berth.

Cuzzie cones were also known as sharky cones, with both names based on Mr Wilson's children's book Cuzzies Meet the Motuhoa Shark.

He said the kaitiaki (guardian) of the sea had become the kaitiaki of the whenua (land).

The cones were distributed to orchardists, schools, kohanga reo and marae to make sure that all the bases were covered.

"My dream is the have them on every orchard."

He said the cones were also much better at warning motorists who drove past orchards with their windows wound down, or cyclists.

The cones were praised at a regional council committee meeting this week as being a simple solution that worked. Children in small rural communities did not realise the possible health problems from contact with agrichemical sprays.

"The risks to children are not only during the application of sprays but can be for a number of days after the initial application of hi-cane. There is also a risk of exposure when children are walking to and from school," the report said.

Orchardists were required to notify neighbours within 12 hours of spraying and many also contacted local schools, kohanga reo and marae. Orchards known to be used as short cuts or as places to play were targeted in the trial of cuzzie cones.

"Implementation was simple and effective, made possible by a motivated community and support from Mr Wilson."

The report said other similarly affected communities in the region could be offered the cones.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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