A new report debunking fears over methamphetamine-contaminated Housing New Zealand homes has come as no surprise to property managers and investors in Rotorua.

The Prime Minister's chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman produced the report for Housing Minister Phil Twyford which said there was no evidence third-hand exposure from meth smoking caused adverse health effects.

It also recommended raising the testing level in houses where manufacture of the drug was not suspected.

Phil Twyford & Peter Gluckman discuss meth testing.

The report said levels that exceed the current standard of 1.5mcg/100cm2 should not signal a health risk and exposure 10 times higher (15mcg/100cm2) would also be unlikely to.


In response, Housing New Zealand has announced it would apply a new level for testing and decontaminating properties as a result of the report's findings.

Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said there had been a strong, long-held belief among property managers the level was "far too low".

Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans. Photo / Stephen Parker

He said there were also a lot of testers with a lack of credibility.

"We only use two in Rotorua and they do a first-class job."

Evans said that from his understanding, the meth contamination issue had not put people off buying homes in Rotorua in particular.

"All over the country property owners have been spending a lot of money on this ... It has been ridiculous, everyone has been scared to death of the stuff.

"I came across a family who had a 3.5-4mcg reading and they were perfectly happy staying in the home as they said they had not noticed any effects. At the time we thought that was a scary decision, but now that the recommended threshold is 15mcg, well 3.5-4mcg that's peanuts."

Rotorua Property Investors Association president Philip Macalister said he was "not at all surprised" by Gluckman's findings.

"My view has been that the levels have been too low. This report is welcomed by property investors."

He said there had been a lot of confusion about what level of testing and cleaning was required.

"A lot of money has been wasted on cleaning over the years, but this could change all that."

Meth testing kit. Photo / File
Meth testing kit. Photo / File

He said the meth contamination issue had been "beaten up" over the years.

"Meth is a big health issue, you cannot downplay that, but people haven't been able to draw the distinction [for property]. Low-level contamination is not a health risk. A little smoking isn't the issue, the labs are."

Graham Yorke, director of established Bay of Plenty-wide testing company Meth Detection, said he was also a "firm believer" that the previous recommended level was too low.

"That's where the hysteria started.

"I believe that there are going to be a whole heap of people who were kicked out for this, who come back and ask questions."

Yorke said he thought the threshold should be about 4-4.5mcg/100cm2.

He said Gluckman's 15mcg/100cm2 recommendation was "going from one extreme to the other".

"You are going to tempt a lot of people to start manufacturing methamphetamine in a home. You'd have to hope there are a lot of these scientific experts that own homes. It's crazy, it's nuts going that high."

He said his agency had done hundreds of meth contamination tests.

"I have seen homes so contaminated that the pet cat has died from coming into contact with the carpet."

He said he did not think Gluckman's report would have a direct impact on his business yet.

"It is not until it is in legislation that we could see the effects."