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Submission to Community Bd re open spaces being chemical pesticide free


Submission presented to community board

  • Creating Lyttelton a pilot for a chemical pesticide free community - on road sides, walk ways, walking tracks, council open space zones, parks and reserves.


  • If the public can have certainty that areas are not sprayed it also gives this community an opportunity to grow more food in the open space zones.  People will be free to forage anywhere for edible weeds, plants and fruits and know they are safe to eat.


  • A change in weed management control that is cheaper and environmentally friendly


Opinions from people standing for Community Board and Council within the Lyttelton / Mt Herbert area


Paula Smith

" Foods foraged from roadsides and reserves need to be safe to eat. Sprays used by Council contractors to manage vegetation may well be a potentially harmful source of contamination. The community expects the Council to ensure vegetation on roadsides and along walking tracks is managed to a certain standard. Currently herbicides are used as a cost effective way to meet community expectations. I support the consideration of other methods to manage vegetation. Setting up a community working party to look at this issue in more detail is a really good idea. I would support a trial of alternative vegetation management methods, especially in the areas most commonly used for foraging. Lyttelton could lead the way."


Anne Jolliffe

Yes, I think Lyttelton could be used as a pilot study in becoming pesticide spray free


Dawn Te-Riaki Kottier

I believe Lyttelton area could be a great pilot community project for becoming pesticide spray free.  We were bought up to forage the land for food and medicine and I would like to see the land become save again so that this generation can do the same.


Claudia Reid

Support in principal, but it needs some wider discussion and understanding


Jeremy Agar

this publicity is a great initiative. You'll raise lots of interest.


Our hillsides need to remain wild. We have a tradition of local management for our reserves and so when the Banks Peninsula ward joined the city we insisted that this delegation remain. The hills above the town, where  the community is planting natives and controlling animal and plant pests, are managed by locals, working with council rangers. The community board is asking the council to create a natural reserve within the town on a vacant lot at the top of Dublin Street. There are other potential pocket parks. I favour our finding consensus on methods to achieve environmental goals.


Douglas Couch

I would like more information from local residents in the community


Andrew Turner

I am supportive of this submission; I believe that where there are food sources on council owned land, these should be available to those who wish to gather food rather than being contaminated with such chemicals. In this case I believe the potential for alternative environmentally friendly weed control methods should be explored



Adrian Te Patu

I support the idea of Lyttelton being a pilot for a chemical pesticide free community. Being Maori means gathering perhaps the most famous edible weeds known to New Zealanders; Puha and Watercress both of which are exotic plants. I also favour the idea of having specific Lyttelton zones in the mean time that should be pesticide free where folk can gather edible plants.



Bryan Morgan

A weed is simply a plant growing in the wrong place, if value can be added by eating the crop, and providing beneficial biodiversity at the same time, give it a go.


I support the community inspired drive to reduce toxins in the environment. Alternative control methods (steam weeders) were trialed previously and rejected due to the cost of the programme compared to "spray and walk away" techniques. If the community is ready to accept a change in standards of wild plant control (I dont like the word "weed") I would like to see a pilot scheme in conjunction with interested local groups. I see this as the very heart of local government, local people should have strong input in their local living conditions.


Denis O'Rourke

Thank you for the copy of your interesting and informative submission.


I have studied it and would be very happy to support it. I certainly believe that we should adopt more sustainable methods of weed control where weed control is necessary, and that organic rather than chemical means should be preferred wherever practicable.

 Cynthia's submission to the Community Board


Thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas, that we as a community can live more sustainably in a safe healthy environment. I will also share the research of specilised Doctors in the field of weed management, pesticides and organics.


I believe that Lyttelton has a point of difference with how it is moving ahead in sustainability. It is small and contained and can easily become the pilot community to set a way of living in New Zealand that will nurture us, the land and waterways. My hope is that all road sides, walkways, walking tracks, open space zoning, parks and reserves become free from pesticide sprays. This will allow us to create public open space with organic foods for the community to eat. People will be free to forage anywhere for edible weeds, plants and fruits and know that they are safe to eat.

I forage every day for edible weeds, they are my only source of greens, however more and more I am coming across areas being sprayed. For the last few years I have been teaching people regularly about edible weeds and would like to create a larger awareness in the community about living off the land in this way. I was invited to lead an edible weeds tour in the last Lyttelton Walking festival. It had 31 people attending, the most out of all the tours.


Project Lyttelton, Soil & Health Association, organic professionals and members of the public are all willing to support this idea


A council member has informed me that they use Roundup and Metron throughout the Lyttelton area on road sides and around open space zones. It has been extremely difficult to find out what pesticides are being used elsewhere in the surrounding Lyttelton areas. There is no Council Spray Policy to inform the public what is being used, only reference to a Council Spray Policy.


I have spoken with over a dozen people within Council, Doc, Reserve committee members to find out what sprays are being used on walking tracks and reserves most of which could not answer my question.  A track ranger informed me, there are no pesticides used on walking tracks. I walk the tracks to the summit four times a week and have physically seen them being sprayed.  Finally, I was informed that Tordon and additives such as Pulse are used with Glyphosate for targeted weeds, but they weren't sure of all the additives being used. Di Carter said contractors and members of public spray areas without council knowledge.  It concerns me greatly that the assigned care takers of this land do not have full knowledge of what toxins are being used. Di also mentioned that looking at changing methods of weed management has come at a good time and she is willing to pass on my research and look at re-education within the council.


Out of all the sprays mentioned Roundup which is Glyphosate is said to be safe and the others are more toxic.


After receiving Dr Meriel Watts research from independent scientists, it became very clear to me how much damage is being created through Roundup and other Glyphosate based herbicides.



Some of the human affects are:

  • Glyphosate affects hormones
  • may impact bone and liver metabolism, reproduction, development, behaviour and also hormone-dependent diseases such as breast and prostate cancer
  • it can cause birth defects
  • it is genotoxic and causes oxidative stress, both of which contribute to cancer
  • may cause Parkinson's disease and there is evidence that it affects the nervous system
  • damages the liver and interferes with enzymes important to metabolism


In terms of the environment, glyphosate:

  • is an environmental contaminant, found in marine sediment such as the Auckland Harbour. Overseas it is found in groundwater, streams, rivers, lakes, marine environment, sewerage sludge and wastewater treatment plants as a result of use on road and rail sides.
  • It can alter the composition of natural aquatic communities, giving rise to harmful algae blooms and having a profound impact on micro organisms, algae and plankton
  • stimulates fungal pathogens resulting in plant diseases
  • and causes micro nutrient deficiency in plants


All of this information has scientific references.


The streets of Auckland are not sprayed with glyphosate. "There is absolutely no reason, other than fear of change, why every other council in the country can't adopt a similar approach," says Dr Meriel Watts. Auckland's policy has been in operation for 13 years now.


Auckland council has many alternatives in their weed management policy such as:

  • Mechanical and hand removal
  • Flame-weeders
  • Hot-water and steam
  • Revegetation and replanting
  • Design change and maintenance of roadsides, footpaths & park play equipment
  • Manipulation of habit
  • Erosion prevention
  • Hot air
  • Biological control


Earlier this year the Canadian senate heard testimony on toxic chemicals being linked to learning and developmental problems like autism, attention deficit disorder and dyslexia. Across Canada they are considering banning the cosmetic use of pesticides. Two cities in Canada have gone spray free of all pesticides and have changed their bylaws.




Dr Charles Merfield has written a submission for the board, who is in support of Lyttelton becoming a spray free community.


His background is in ecological agriculture and horticulture. He specialises in ‘non-chemical' weed management, from the fundamental biology and ecology of weeds through to practical management techniques including expertise in a wide range of machinery and technology, as well as international level expertise in thermal weeding. 


He says:

Herbicides are a very recent invention, introduced in 1940-1980 compared with the 10,000 years existence of agriculture. Before the introduction of herbicides all weed management was non chemical. The advent of herbicides was such a steep change in the ease by which weeds could be killed that it created a whole new attitude towards weeds: War was literally declared on weeds with the aim of completely eliminating them. The definition of a weed is not a ‘scientific' one, rather it is a moral decision. The general public and those with a professional

interest in weed management, view certain weeds and plant species bad and therefore must be controlled, and good species that should be encouraged. The reality is far from this dualistic conception. ‘One persons weed is another person's dinner'

The biodiversity and ecological roles of ‘weeds' are now being recognised as vital to the wellbeing of society.


Therefore, even leaving aside changing moral and social norms pressing for reduced herbicide use, natural forces and increasing scientific understanding of the harmful effects of herbicides are continually reducing herbicide options. The conclusion is that all herbicide users need to start planning for a post herbicide world.

New Zealand has what I would describe as an extreme social norm when it comes to vegetation management in human managed areas. This attitude has a strong dislike of unmanaged vegetation: all grass must be grazed / close mown or killed, hedges must be monocultures and regularly trimmed, rank and all other undesired vegetation must be eliminated. This is demonstrated in the widespread use of herbicides. While this is normal for most New Zealanders it is very strange for those from overseas, including those from the United Kingdom, from which these social norms have been derived. The Kew Gardens in London for example do not use herbicides - if it's good enough for the ‘mother of all botanic gardens' then it is more than good enough for us here.


A key point is that stopping non-essential weed management directly translates into financial savings. In comparison, trying to simply replace herbicides with non-chemical weed management techniques is almost certainly going to be more expensive and/or difficult.  Much current weed management has significant negative environmental effects including climate change, so reducing it has significant environmental benefits.


Key among these is the creation of bare soil by herbicide use. Soil is the most important ecosystem on the planet and the interface for all the biogeochemical cycles, e.g., the hydro and carbon cycles. Without plants, soil degrades and is eventually destroyed. A key priority in any revised vegetation management policy must be the minimisation of soil unprotected by vegetation.


Changing from herbicide to non-chemical weed management systems requires a change in mindset among the general public, policy makers and managers far more than it requires alternative non-chemical weed control techniques. This change is key to ensuring a significant reduction in costs due to elimination of unnecessary weed control.


Dr Charles Merfield said that if anyone requires more information he is happy to meet with them. He can also hold a workshop for council and spray users to educate a new way of weed management.


After reading research and talking to others in the organic field it is clear to me that replacing a pesticide with another form of spray is not ideal, there are many other alternatives.


If our community needs are being met by creating a sustainable community that has a healthy environment and an abundance of food, then without doubt the people will be more willing to also look after and manage their surroundings.


I would now like to introduce you now to Vanya Maw an organic farmer who will expand on her experiences and other research.


Hello everyone, I'd like to thank Cynthia, for giving me the opportunity to speak today.

I live at Wyenova Organic Farm, 20 acres of land at Broadfield.  The land has been organic since 1989 and fully Bio Gro Certified in 1992.  being farmed organically for over 20years.

Nuts, fruit, ornamental trees, also large areas of vegetables are some of the things grown.

Methods I use for weed control are mowing, slashing, trimming, grubbing, pulling, cutting, hoeing, mulching and weed mats.  Some of these methods could be used on footpaths, berms, kerbing, channelling and parks.  They have no detrimental impact upon the environment or on public health.


Eco Cover Mats are produced from waste paper; they richly benefit the plants, soil and environment.  They are fertilizer enriched and cost effective.

The benefits are;

  • 100% compost-able & biodegradable
  • They build soil carbon
  • Up to 80% water conservation
  • Excellent weed control
  • Plant growth is promoted
  • Moderate soil temperature fluctuations
  • Help control erosion
  • Herbicide free
  • Achieve 100% zero waste


The BHU at Linclon University suggest vinegar being used for difficult plants.  I have eliminated Old Mans' Beard by drilling several holes into the sawn off trunk and filling them with sea salt.  This method could be used on other woody plants.


In 2004 I began planting a 2 and a half acre indigenous native reserve on the farm.  Now over 2000 trees are growing, many well over 4 metres high, proving this can be successfully achieved organically.


Taichung National University in Taiwan which is now organic, states that since turning organic they are experiencing;

  • 100% increase in insect life
  • Less mosquito's
  • More amphibians
  • Rare birds nesting


The University campus is in the middle of the city, proving more advantages for spray free communities.


I'd like to draw attention to the many wonderful weeds that are so beneficial to the human body.  These nutritious plants are eradicated when chemical sprays are used.  Foraging for edible weeds is a wonderful way to naturally gather nutritious food. 

For example;

  • Chick weed having 10 minerals & 5 vitamins
  • Nettles - 12 minerals & 6 vitamins

Both these are extremely high in amino acids and antioxidants.  In comparison with our garden vegetables;

  • Silver Beet - 3 minerals & 4 vitamins
  • Spinach - 3 minerals & 3 vitamins


They have approximately only 1/3 of the nutrition that the weeds have.  Milk thistle (Poo-ha), again so nutritious and has the highest levels of antioxidants above other greens.  The Maori people have always eaten this food, knowing its great benefits.

You can see the importance of letting some of these natural plants grow.  To me it's criminally wrong to continually spray them out of existence, let alone with chemical toxic poisonous sprays.


Lyttelton is unique and has a character all of its own.  It also has many visitors and tourists via cruise ships.  To have an environment that is spray free and publicly advised of this, would be another huge asset.


I speak on behalf of Mother Earth; the main objective here is to care, nurture, and respect her.  To leave her in a better condition for our children and children to come.


I ask you all here today to support this submission, so change can be brought about for Lyttelton and its people to live in a safe, healthy environment.


We need a working party to bring about the change, to stop the councils use of toxic pesticides being used in Lyttelton.  We would like to request the Community Board to action this.


Let's make our roadsides, parks, walkways, walking tracks, reserves and public open spaces "Spray Free"


We thank you for your support






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