The man who drank water from a Russell Forest stream only days after 1080 was dropped and then name-called critics was in the dogbox at this week's Northland Regional Council meeting.

Te Hiku council member Mike Finlayson had to wait outside the meeting room for more than an hour while fellow councillors and NRC bosses discussed a report by an independent investigation into code-of-conduct complaints. The report made a couple of recommendations.

But after the council's long discussion on barrister and mediator Paul Sills' report, Finlayson hardly got a ticking off.

Finlayson, who said the complaints were ''part of a concerted political campaign to silence an elected official [who was] contesting their position'', has adamantly defended his stance since the water-drinking episode in September last year.


Before being asked to ''stand outside'' of Tuesday's meeting, he outlined his environmental advocacy role as a private individual and elected NRC member: ''I see no reason to abandon these values.''

The council resolved not to require him to officially apologise to Far North anti-1080 campaigners who had taken his name-calling personally.

Finlayson claimed he was not aiming at anyone in particular when he wrote in the Northland Age that some concerned people had been ''hijacked by the type of emotive [1080] propaganda that would make Goebbels proud''.

1080 drop was dropped on the possum-devastated Russell Forest in September 2018.
1080 drop was dropped on the possum-devastated Russell Forest in September 2018.

Sills had already dismissed a complaint that Finlayson breached health and safety legislation by drinking the water to prove it was clear of 1080.

Recommendations he made on other complaints were rejected at Tuesday's meeting — including that the council send Finlayson a letter reminding him to separate personal and council opinions. In a case of one for all and all for one, the other members felt if such a letter were needed, they should all get one.

CEO Malcolm Nicolson said the NRC has a policy that representatives can express personal opinions as long as they make it clear the opinion is not the council's. Nicolson took the complaints about Finlayson's controversial action on his own chin, saying the councillor had articulated a personal view because the NRC didn't have 1080 policy: ''That's my fault.''

Much to the dismay of the complainants who were in the public gallery for the meeting, the council then agreed to develop a policy. The words ''sodium fluoroacetate (1080)'' are likely to be replaced with the more grab-all ''hazardous substances''.

Finlayson told the the process had been stressful.


''Drinking that water was a response to a challenge that came from anti-1080 people. I knew the water testing had come back clear and I wanted to show that the narrative that 1080 poisons the water is a false narrative.

''I'd also like to make the point that I never personally attacked people - but I have been personally attacked and called a liar, among other things.''

During the meeting, one complainant's request to speak was promptly shut down by chairman Bill Shepherd, who said they had already commented via the complaints process.

"Complainant A" later said no acknowledgement or respect was afforded them, despite the investigator reporting that Finlayson violated four separate Code of Conduct sections.

''Naturally we are disappointed that the NRC have essentially ignored the findings and recommendations, thus demonstrating a real lack of accountability,'' she said.

"While Cr Finlayson was allowed to write a lengthy rebuttal to the investigator's report and allowed to speak at the meeting before the deliberation, [we] were not given any such opportunity to respond to the report. It created a climate of bias and left us feeling frustrated, unheard and disrespected.''