A rendering plant in the Waikato has been fined $180,000 for causing a stench some locals said smelled like "death mixed with a septic tank".
Tuakau Proteins Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges under the Resource Management Act for a series of events between November 2019 and April 2020.
The company was prosecuted by the Waikato Regional Council after dozens of complaints about the "objectionable odour" were laid over a period of months.
The council said residents described the smell as "death mixed with a septic tank" and being like "raw sewage" or "rotten eggs".
As well as imposing the fine, Hamilton District Court Judge Melanie Harland also placed an enforcing order on the company prohibiting it from further discharges of objectionable odour and requiring certain improvements to be carried out on site.
Judge Harland said the company's action was "reckless and it had a significant and profound effect on the community nearby, in some cases causing people to be physically sick".
Patrick Lynch, the council's regional compliance manager, said the fine sent a clear message to the company and its board of directors, who were present during the sentencing process.
"If this company intends to keep operating at this site they need to do so lawfully and without an ongoing detrimental effect on the community or environment," Lynch said on Tuesday.
"There is now a court order in place to offer some degree of protection to this community through the coming summer months. The enforcement order is really significant and essentially the most powerful regulatory tool available for us to act on if there are further breaches.
"We are very hopeful that the significance of this court order is not lost on the company."