Women fall ill after 1080 drop

1080 bait
1080 bait
Two Reefton women who were caught in the bush as 1080 poison rained from the sky last summer are now both reporting ill health.

An official investigation into the incident has been reopened.

Sisters Gwen Gardner and Kathleen Bartlett were on Maori Gully Road, near Kokiri, having a picnic after checking out a property for sale, when a helicopter with a monsoon bucket flew overhead and dropped poisoned pellets around their vehicle. They were close by at the time.

The sisters say they felt ill within 40 minutes of the drop, but did not associate it with 1080 poisoning.

They remained in the area for several hours as they did not think it could have been 1080, partly because they say a sign was outdated, and the helicopter was following the line of a creek.

However, medical tests by the Reefton GP now show Mrs Bartlett's liver is not functioning as it should, she suffers from nausea and tiredness, and coughs every night.

A trained singer, she says she knows her breathing is not right.

Mrs Gardner, who spent 15 years with St John, suffers B12 deficiency, nausea and fatigue.

After going public about the poison drop, Tb Free said the pair were on private land and should not have been there anyway.

However, the sisters said they later discovered that the photos they took of pellets lying around the vehicle actually recorded their GPS location -- and proves they were on a public road at the time.

They say tthey were ridiculed after going public for allegedly being in the wrong place.

Mrs Bartlett, who describes herself as a "private, non-confrontational person", has not been named until now.

However, she said this week she wanted to tell her story.

"We were two innocent people picnicking up a creek, and it was covered in 1080. For that, we are really unwell," her sister said.

The women say some warning signs out further have been updated, but not the one on Maori Gully Road.

Their GP, a locum new to the country, knew nothing of 1080 poison until they turned up for their regular tests. They say the doctor Googled the poison and demanded an investigation.

The sisters say they want to see more information made available for medical professionals.

They were "shocked" the case had been closed at the time as they were still waiting to hear back from medical and council staff. They are pleased the investigation has been reopened.

"We thought there was an investigation going on [all along]," Mrs Bartlett said.

West Coast medical officer of health Dr Cheryl Brunton said she had received some "more updated information" this week and as a result they were going to "revisit some things".

"It's still in process of investigation."

Tb Free northern South Island programme manager Matt Hickson said they were awaiting the outcome of Dr Brunton's report.

By Laura Mills of the Greymouth Star

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