School newsletter reminds parents term 3 is cannabis season

A police and Royal New Zealand Air Force team with cannabis recovered during an aerial operation in the Wairau Valley, ...
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

A police and Royal New Zealand Air Force team with cannabis recovered during an aerial operation in the Wairau Valley, in Marlborough, last year.

A small rural school in Marlborough is doing its part in helping crack down on cannabis.

In Havelock School's latest newsletter, just below the cross-country results, sits an advert from police asking for drug tip-offs.

Police have published an appeal for residents of the Marlborough Sounds community to be extra vigilant as cannabis-growing season approaches.

The newsletter also advises people to keep an eye out for "people in the bush who do not look like they are hunting or tramping".

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Constable Spencer Kingi, one of Havelock's two policemen, says growers will look to hide cannabis crops in rural areas and the public's help is crucial.

The Havelock School newsletter is a popular place for community organisations to advertise, including police.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

The Havelock School newsletter is a popular place for community organisations to advertise, including police.

"The public often acts as the eyes and ears of police. 

"For this reason, we reach out to people in a number of ways; from notices in newsletters, engagement through social and traditional media channels, through to daily contact with individuals in our communities.

"Police are focused on keeping people safe and reducing harm in our communities, where the supply of illicit drugs has a big impact," he says.

Marlborough's rural and often remote locations make it a magnet for growers.

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Police stormed a yacht in Waikawa Bay, near Picton, in April last year and found 25 kilograms of cannabis to score one of the biggest cannabis busts in Marlborough this decade.

The men responsible had been harvesting cannabis plots on several remote islands in the Marlborough Sounds. All three were sent to prison.

Some cannabis strains are bred especially for outdoor cultivation as they are more resistant to humidity and mould.

As warmer weather approaches growers treat the seeds like any other plant and keep a lookout for sunny spots away from prying eyes.

Last year police netted 9000 cannabis plants in the annual aerial recovery operation in the top of the south and West Coast.

About 6000 plants were recovered in the Nelson-Marlborough area of the Tasman police district and more than 3000 on the West Coast. 

Kingi says there are some signs that could point at possible criminal behaviour, including boats behaving suspiciously in the Marlborough Sounds and suspicious vehicles parked in rural areas.

Any cannabis cultivating equipment such as hydroponic apparatus should also be reported to police.

Havelock School Principal Ernie Buutveld say the newsletter is a great tool to help spread community messages.

"The community supports the school by advertising and so allows, despite the digital age, over 650 hard copies to be distributed in the wider Havelock area… hence the police using it to spread the word.

"They have had some success in the past with other work in this fashion,"

Anyone who suspects illegal activity can email Constable Spencer Kingi on sky426@police.govt.nz or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

 - The Marlborough Express

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