The world has gone mad over mushrooms, and the founder of an online petition is trying to sort it out.

Lisa Sargison started an online petition after the Havelock North based mushroom farm, Te Mata Mushrooms, was fined $26,000 by Hawke's Bay Regional Council due to odour escaping the farm's boundaries.

"I think the world has gone mad," Sargison said.

"I think it's completely atrocious for council to fine them."


She said people complaining about the smell had risked the livelihoods of the 120 employees at Te Mata Mushrooms.

"That's people's livelihoods at risk, because people can't handle the smell."

She said the issue was Hastings District Council had allowed residential properties to be built near the farm, which has been operating for more than 50 years.

She thought it was the council, not the mushroom farm, which should be fined.

Chief Executive for Hastings District Council, Neil Taylor, said urban encroachment was well under way when Te Mata Mushroom's current owner, Michael Whittaker , bought the company.

"When he bought the business, it came with an existing resource consent that required a programme of upgrades to achieve no objectionable odours beyond the boundary."

Whittaker said they cannot control the wind, and bad smells do escape from time to time.

"There's no question that from time to time odour goes over the boundary, we've never said that that's not the case."


"When the wind does blow, odour does escape over the boundary, but it's only from time to time and of limited duration."

He says they are going through a resource consent process with regional council to help control the smell, and felt it was unfair to be fined in the middle of that process.

"There's a process that we were going through, and we should be allowed to go through that process like anyone else.

"I do think regional council, and we said this in court, we said regional council has reacted to a very small minority of people that have been complaining."

Hawke's Bay Regional Council chief executive James Palmer says it has received almost 200 complaints this year about odour coming from the farm.

He rejected the claim that council was responsible for delays to upgrading the farms plant.

"It is the company's owner who is unprepared to make the investments required to comply with the current consent conditions unless he is allowed to significantly expand production."

Not all residents in the area find the mushroom farm a problem.

Barry McHarg who lives in the area, says he has no issue with the smell.

"I hope they can stay there as long as they can," McHarg said.

He said if people had an issue with the smell they should not buy property in the area, and he personally would be happy to support a petition to help the farm.

Whittaker said he and the company appreciates the community support.

"We greatly appreciate the support that we get all the time," Whittaker said.

"I think genuinely there is the vast majority of people in Hawke's Bay, Havelock North, Hastings and Hawke's Bay generally, support Te Mata and the issues and the challenges that we face."

The petition had more than 700 signatures by mid-afternoon on Friday, less than 24 hours after Sargison started it.

She is aiming for 2000 signatures in total.