” … during my time on council … I was placed under pressure to toe the line and deny there was a [pollution] problem” Former HDC Councillor Anne Hunt
Former Horowhenua District Councillor Anne Hunt, who is backing the claims made by both Councillors Campbell and Feyen (see links at bottom of page) regarding the HDC’s role in pollution of Horowhenua’s waterways, has revealed that on two occasions they as Councillors were given a clear message by Mayor Brendan Duffy that they were to “toe the line and deny pollution by the Council”. The first of those occasions concerning a 2008 visit by Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman is addressed here, the second which relates to the pollution of Shannon’s waterways, will be covered in another post.
Mrs Hunt has previously stated on Maori Television in a documentary about the pollution of Lake Horowhenua that HDC is its “worst polluter” and she still stands by this statement (see video at 3.56 minutes).
Dr Russel Norman’s Visit in 2008
Mrs Hunt described an occasion in 2008 when Dr Russel Norman came to Levin to speak with HDC’s Mayor, CEO and representatives about the pollution of Lake Horowhenua by Levin’s nearby waste water treatment plant. At a Council workshop on the day prior, they were told, said Mrs Hunt, that TV3 was coming up to interview the CEO David Ward. Cr Leigh McMeeken suggested they should all stand around him as a show of support. She describes the workshop:
“We were all sitting around the council table, and Brendan [Mayor Duffy] asked each councillor individually to speak to this and voice their support [of the CEO’s stance]… finally coming around to glare at me. I felt most uncomfortable and managed to mumble a non-committal answer. But the message was clear that I was not to step out of line. The Mayor and every other councillor supported the staff position on this, and agreed that Dr Norman was simply political point scoring”.
Put simply, Mrs Hunt says they knew they were to deny that their Council was polluting the lake.
During his visit Dr Norman was given the opportunity to fly over the lake and take photographs. It was not until a couple of months later that he was proven right by Horizons official tests (3 Oct 08 Manawatu Standard) about the sewage pollution when samples showed high levels of E coli, confirming faecal contamination.
Dr Norman’s Conclusions on the Sewage Contamination
Dr Norman concluded there was absolutely no doubt sewage was seeping into the lake and said it was turning out to be one of NZ’s worst sewage disasters in years. Official tests found high levels of E.coli between council sewage ponds and Lake Horowhenua. He commented that the HDC had a history of resource consent breaches including a then recent court appearance regarding Shannon’s sewage ponds. Mayor Brendan Duffy and CEO David Ward he said, have constantly downplayed risks, with Mayor Duffy calling any critics of his waste disposal practices ‘ill-informed’. The council had given priority he said to a $10.4 mill council building over proper waste treatment.
The new Council building … “an edifice to stupidity” – Cr Michael Feyen
The Sewage Pollution of Lake Horowhenua was FACT
This has been an abbreviated revision of Dr Norman’s conclusions. Fuller coverage will be the subject of a later post. It serves here in its brevity to illustrate that in spite of HDC denials, the pollution of Lake Horowhenua by sewage was factual, as official tests later proved. And the point of this post being to endorse the actions of Mr Andrews (the 70 year old Shannon environmentalist who was recently assaulted at his home by intruders) and Crs Ross Campbell and Michael Feyen, in endeavouring to film what appears to be deliberate pollution by the HDC, bringing it to the notice of the public. A public that elected these representatives to manage their public resources, prudently and not negligently.
Particularly, it exposes, thanks to Mrs Hunt, the clearly unethical tactics employed by the HDC in coercing its Councillors to think and ‘vote’ a certain way.
You have a situation here where your Councillors that you vote for on election day, the people whom you are expecting to represent your views when important decisions are made at your local District Council … they are actually being told how to vote … and that is according to the directive of the CEO.
Is this democratic?
What we have here it seems, is an illusion of democracy. Behind those closed doors Councillors are not permitted to represent you … their hands are tied. Clearly there have been three Councillors here who were willing to speak the truth … at great cost to themselves. For that I applaud them.
“When we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice”. – Robert Francis Kennedy
Finally, bear in mind that your local District Councils are registered on Dun and Bradstreet’s website as companies. (Check this out for yourself). A company is:
“… any formal business entity for profit which may be a corporation, a partnership, association or individual proprietorship…” SOURCE
So we need to be asking ourselves, to whom do our Councils (that are really companies) owe their allegiance? To you the ratepayer/citizen? Or to corporate/company interests, given they exist ‘for profit’? Does this not explain a few anomalies?
On a final note, these courageous Councillors who have put their heads above the parapet and spoken truth deserve our thanks. Do consider emailing them in that regard, or leave a comment here. And the same goes for the local residents, in particular Mr Andrews, who have also stood up and been counted.
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