Punch part of battle over 1080

By James Ihaka

A Coromandel Peninsula farmer and conservationist who was king-hit at a community meeting because of his 1080 views says the attack has not deterred him and he will continue to use the poison.

Arthur Hinds, who is the Waikato Conservancy Board chairman, suffered a black eye and swelling to his face after he was punched in the head, apparently by an anti-1080 protester, as he arrived to speak to Tairua residents about a proposed marine reserve on Sunday.

The attack was condemned as brutal by Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson who said the incident was not the first.

She said the anti-1080 movement on the Coromandel was growing increasingly violent.

But Mr Hinds, who was knocked to the ground, said things could have been worse.

"There's a little bit of bruising and structural damage but it certainly isn't as bad as it could have been," he said.

Mr Hinds did not know his attacker but believed he was with a group from Thames. The police are investigating.

The Whenuakite farmer said: "This guy is part of a group that has an agenda - they want to stop aerial 1080 on the peninsula and they intend to use any means they can.

"These protesters knew I was going to be there and as I was going into the hall one of these guys came up behind me and flattened me."

Mr Hinds conceded the use of 1080 to control possums, stoats and rats was an emotive subject but he believed his detractors' arguments were based on "ignorance, emotion and self interest".

"I have 100ha of bush that has been approved for a Kiwi 2 covenant which means the land can't ever be cleared. So we are protecting it in perpetuity.

"I don't like any toxins but aerial 1080 has worked very well in taking the rats out," he said.

Supporters say 1080 can eradicate pests and help stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis.

- NZ Herald

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