Scuffle at hall linked to 1080

By Yvonne Tahana

1080 bait. Photo / Supplied
1080 bait. Photo / Supplied

A conservation board chairman who was allegedly punched as he made his way into a Tairua community meeting said the anti-1080 protester responsible was part of a group which "couldn't be reasoned with".

Arthur Hinds, 65, who is the Waikato Conservancy Board chairman, was left with a black eye on Sunday after being hit as he arrived to speak about a proposed marine reserve.

Waikato police said they were investigating.

"The victim is alleged to have been struck in the head and knocked to the ground by one man and when he tried to get off the ground he was prevented from doing so by a second offender."

Mr Hinds said although he knew the protesters were angry he never thought he'd be kinghit.

"I like to think I can look after myself but I just didn't see it coming. I sensed a movement out the side of my eye and I heard this fellow say something and as I was turning he swung and it smacked me on the side of my face.

He rushed into belt me again and I caught his arm.

"I think the last time I was punched was 40 years ago at a rugby match.

Mr Hinds is leading a private landowner 1080 operation at Whenuakite, which includes his own property and some conservation land.

Anton Roest from the Tairua Residents' and Ratepayers' Association, who organised the meeting, said there were about 20 protesters who told him they were unhappy with Mr Hinds' 1080 activities.

He said the group assured him they wouldn't interrupt the meeting in exchange for being allowed to speak. However, things changed when Mr Hinds arrived.

"I went out to the door and there was a commotion and somebody had punched poor Arthur in the face. He landed on the concrete steps. He had blood all over his face."

Community members helped Mr Hinds and his wife inside and Mr Roest called 111.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the incident was not the first.

"Arthur works hard to promote conservation issues in Waikato and I doubt the actions of a few cowards will deter him."

- NZ Herald

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