Peter Wareing

Oakura Circle (Part 1 of 3) (2008)

14 min 47 sec3 channel installation / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

"The oracle stands on the popular surf beach and upscale small town in Taranaki called Oakura, whose residence comprise mostly of New Plymouth's professionals and wealthy retired farmers. In the far background is New Zealand's biggest chemical plant, which was to produce large amounts of the herbicide 245T from the early 1960s to the mid 1980s, including contracting to the US government for export to Vietnam as part of their jungle de-foliage program.

The working class residential neighbourhood of Paritutu grew around the plant in the 1960s and 1970s with many residents complaining of health (including women's reproductive issues) and environmental problems that they associated with living next too or close to the plant.

The company that owned and operated the plant Ivan Watkins/Dow Chemical has always maintained that there was no association between the plant and its manufacture of 245T and any supposed health or environment damage. This disavowal reached to the highest levels in the New Zealand government at the time, who promoted and partially sponsored the wide use of the herbicide to speedily open up as much land to sheep and cattle grazing as possible (long after all western counties had banned their own production)."

Artist's statement

Other works by Peter Wareing

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