Environmental lawyer Sue Grey has spoken to audiences from one end of the country to the other about the introduction of 5G technology, and how it might be stopped.

Last week she added Kaitaia to her list of venues, and she gave her audience there the same message that she had imparted everywhere else — that if they speak loudly, and long enough, they have the power to prevail.

It would not be easy, she said, but New Zealand had a record of public sentiment ultimately shaping government policies, such as the nuclear-free movement of the 1980s, and in more and recent times the acceptance of medicinal cannabis.

"People power has worked before and it can work again," she said.

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"We need to reach critical mass, and opposition to 5G is building."

Slovenia had successfully defeated its introduction there, and so, she believed, could New Zealand.

The new technology is opposed by communities around the world for its perceived threat to all forms of life, from human to plants, Ms Grey saying the issue boiled down to telcos releasing radiation into communities, often in very close proximity to people, with no consultation.

"There is huge public interest in this issue," she said.

"I've spoken from Kaitaia to Alexandra, from New Plymouth to Gisborne and all sorts of places in between, and the invitation list is still growing. I've told every one of those audiences to sign petitions, write to their local MPs, present to their local councils."

Health and safety concerns were fundamentally a local authority responsibility, she said, although the government had told local government to "butt out" of the 5G discussion.

Nelson, which she described as having a very active 5G community, had forced its council to engage, however, and other communities could do the same.

It was ridiculous, she added, that a cafe that wanted to put tables and chairs on a footpath had to get a licence from the local council, but 5G towers could be erected without one.

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It was also ominous that the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister's chief science advisor had been "too busy" to meet a world authority on the subject of 5G technology.

"It will be an election issue this year though. That's what happened in Slovenia," she said.

"If enough people stand up and say they've had enough, politicians will listen.

"We need the benefits 5G is supposed to offer," she added, "but I don't believe it will deliver those benefits. We need to be mindful of technology's benefits and risks, and then make an informed decision.

"That's what this opposition is about really. We're being told what's going to happen whether we like it or not, without consultation, and more and more people are saying that they are not prepared to accept that."

Within safety guidelines

Mobile technologies such as 3G, 4G and 5G operate well within the safety limits set out by international guidelines, which incorporate substantial safety margins to deliver protection for everyone against health risks according to Vodafone's senior communications lead Nicky Preston.
"The health and safety of our customers and New Zealanders is incredibly important to us, and we continue to monitor the decades of research that has been conducted on this topic," Ms Preston said, responding to 'Loud people power to stall 5g' (Northland Age February 11).
Official New Zealand government websites have recently released information to respond to concerns around 5G, to reassure the public it is safe.
One online fact sheet produced by the Ministry of Health stated 5G would "most likely" result in lower exposures than if existing technologies were used.
"Measurements at laboratory and operational 5G sites in Australia have shown that exposures to 5G signals are similar to, or lower than, those from existing cellsites, and small fractions of the public limit in the standard," she added.
"These measurements were made with the 5G site loaded by downloading high-resolution video or carrying out a speed test."
■vodafone.co.nz/our-networks/5g-safe-technology