A Far North pensioner has fallen foul of neighbours and Whangarei District Council for cutting and selling kindling to raise money for the Northland emergency helicopter service.
Ron Murray, of Kamo, used a circular saw to break down wooden pallets for the kindling, the proceeds having raised about $25 a week which he donates to the Northland Emergency Service Trust. Mr Murray estimates he has donated about $1500 to the organisation in the past 18 months.
He spent a couple of days each week on the kindling which he then sold from his gate on Kamo Rd. He only cut the kindling during winter months, he said.
But neighbours objected to the noise of the saw and complained to Whangarei District Council compliance officers who then investigated whether Mr Murray's fundraising amounted to a commercial operation.
To clarify how serious or otherwise the matter was - and to avoid further conflict - he recorded the times he used his saw. Some of those periods were only minutes long, Mr Murray's log book shows.
The council's compliance department also came to his place to take noise level readings of his work, on July 17, at 8.30am.
Due to weather conditions and road noise interfering with the reading, the result was inconclusive, according to a letter Mr Murray received.
"It's a joke," he said. "How can a law be enforced if the test was inconclusive?"
After subsequent discussions between the parties, Mr Murray agreed to tone down his kindling sales operation to make it less "commercial". He has stopped asking for $5 a bag, and instead takes donations of that amount, and has remove signs from in front of his house.
"Council officers are now of the opinion that no commercial operation is being undertaken from the property and any noise associated with the drop saw is for domestic purposes," Katie Hislop, from WDC's regulatory services, wrote.
"As such this matter will now be closed."
It's a point that rankles Mr Murray. "Does this mean carpenters or builders can no longer use saws for their work? That's surely commercial, not domestic."
Other worthy recipients of Mr Murray's voluntary work include the Shackleton Sea Scouts, Pompallier College, Kamo Kindergarten and any school or organisation doing a project using plants or potting mix. He sells potting mix at his gate to raise those funds.
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