A man fighting brain cancer has fears for his health after leaning a 15-metre 4G cellphone tower is going to be built near his home.

Ten years ago Ben Rowland began a journey of radiation treatment for a brain tumour, which despite his efforts became "very aggressive" a few years ago.

Rowland quit his Auckland corporate job, sold his rental, sold his home and moved to Tairua.

"To come here has been all about wanting to live, wanting to keep going."


But he said the stress has returned after Spark was granted consent by Thames-Coromandel District Council to erect a 15m 4G cell phone tower at the rear of the Tairua Gull Service Station, a short distance from his home.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy has left Rowland sensitive to radiofrequency at his home. Rowland and wife Rebecca are now so careful about his exposure to unnecessary radio frequencies they have had the internet chip removed from his power box, and only use wi-fi when necessary.

"One of the symptoms of all of that treatment is I think I'm quite compromised, my body has been beaten up," Rowland said.

"When I turn on my wi-fi at home I get ringing in my head. If there's a lot of information passing through it, I notice that especially. It's a feeling, or a sound.

"I like the idea that I can turn my wi-fi off. If I have to get an email, my wife will download it for me.

"So I was really concerned when I found out this tower was going to go up and it was going to be 200m from my home."

The tower is expected to deliver 4G services but it is capable of being upgraded to 5G - fifth-generation technology - designed to deliver electromagnetic frequencies powerful enough to cater to future innovations, such as driverless cars.

Community group Stop 5G Tairua has already gathered about 400 signatures petitioning against the tower and 5G, citing overseas studies and local concerns at the biological effects of much higher electromagnetic frequencies.


For 5G to be effective, many more transmitters would need to be installed throughout suburban streets to deliver the much higher frequencies than currently emitted.

Barry Sayers said the council may not have had to notify residents "but I think they should have".

Sayers' boundary is about 15m from the tower site.

"Two things annoy me, that it will devalue the house, and the lack of notification by Council. They did the consent and never came near any of us."

Rowland and other residents took their concerns to the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board last week but failed to connect with elected representatives.

Board chair Bob Renton refused to comment, saying it was a matter for Mayor Sandra Goudie and not an issue for the community board.

Goudie also refused to comment.

Rowland said he was saddened "by the way that everybody we have contacted has instantly tried to pass the buck or say there's nothing we can do".

"We're not asking them to have a giant fight for us. I just think there's been a lack of conversation about it.

Stop 5G Tairua's Aaron Dunne said all businesses and residents in a reasonable distance from the tower should have been consulted.

"It's an inappropriate place for a cell tower."

A Spark spokeswoman said the company usually installed a temporary facility in the area to help cope with extra demand over summer months, but a permanent solution was needed and the site was commercially zoned land.

Spark notified neighbours immediately near to the site of the build, in February and May after the council issued a code of compliance, the spokeswoman said.

She said Spark teams had been scoping and assessing sites in the township since mid-2018.

Cell sites were built in accordance with all legal compliance requirements under the National Environmental Standards for Telecommunication Facilities, which state notification of a proposed site was not required.

However, the spokeswoman said the company did notify nine residents of their intentions.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health Interagency Committee monitors research into electromagnetic fields and reviews research to make recommendations regarding the protection of human health.

The spokeswoman said: "Most of [the] scientific opinion, supported by the World Health Organisation, is that there is no clear evidence from the thousands of scientific studies undertaken to date that mobile phones or base stations present risks to human health."