New Zealand set a new precedent, by detaining me from leaving their country because they deemed my vessel unsafe. This judgement and "red flag" was raised by Gary Burton, customs officer in bay of islands based on his interpretation of cosmetic appearance and had little to do with actual safety concerns. If these people actually cared about safety, they should look at what actually kills most of the people who die. They might consider alcohol, tobacco, firearms, the many toxic chemicals and poisions (no where else do they dump highly toxic poison on undeveloped land), motorcycles, cars, busses, trains, airplanes, helicopters, any motorized boats which are capable of planing, and 90% of what they sell in the supermarket. All of these things pose a much greater risk of injury and death than what I was up to.
Bay of Islands is thus, best avoided as a port of entry by anyone with an extrodinary boat for the time being. Furthermore, I was ridiculed for having things like garden plants and mold (which produces oxygen) growing above the waterline on the sides of the boat. Essentially, he didn't like the way my boat looked, and did everything he could to "punish" me for this, even though it is my boat, not his boat.
To make a long story short, they took the boat away, hauled it at ashbeys boatyard and inspected it, finding nothing that would prevent me from sailing to the islands. Then put the boat back in the water 6 days later as the best weather window in over a month was comming to an end. This caused me to experience much more dangerous conditions on my passage north, and I lost a 115 watt solar panel in an instant struck by a breaking wave.
The incident involved Customs, Immigration and Maritime New Zealand. After all, I have the right to navigate the seas in whatever vessel I choose, or even if I had wanted to I may swim. I had little choice as they outnumbered me with 5 officials, and they also use fast powerboats making escape on a slow displacement sailboat not really possible. This actions on their part caused unwanted harm to the natural environment as I witnessed pollution being emitted from their engine and an oil slick in the water.
Because of their concern for cosmetic appearances, I was forced to pressure wash the entire boat, top and bottom despite my protests that the ocean would be doing this automatically on the passage. I also had to deal with various narrow-minded people which is not really a normal part of my daily routine.
There is plenty more information and newspaper articles about this incident available. All I can say to sailors is beware of New Zealand. It is not a country that respects freedom. You can sail thousands of miles to get there, and even sail around the north island which was fairly rough and when you are ready to leave, they may at their whim take your boat away force you do to whatever they decide the boat needs, threatening you with deportation.
New Zealand is a beautiful country in the places that humans haven't spoiled it. You can find places with native bush with many birds and a loud bird song. Most of the country however has been cleared of this, and used for unsustainable farming practices. For example, clear-cutting on very steep slopes leaving only stumps, and massive errosion plainly visible from where I was sailing is common practice. Planting only the same crop over wide areas then dumping chemicals on it to make it grow is common practice. New Zealand is special (especially the south island) because of it's unique location and ecological history. The people who live there however are not special. They are every bit as ignorant and selfish as what you will find in places like texas. New Zealand has been mostly spoiled for short term gains (see what the dairy industry has done). There are a few exceptional people of course, but not many like you will find in countries like Vanuatu.