Tag Archives: Cr Ross Campbell

The Illusion of Democracy – Horowhenua District Council is Rolling its new Deputy Mayor and Won’t be Opening The Books … What’s to Hide?

The recent Local Government elections saw Horowhenua District Council with a new Mayor, former Cr Michael Feyen who selected new Deputy Mayor, Ross Campbell. Perhaps indicative of HDC’s current stance, the powhiri and swearing in was only briefly featured on HDC’s web pages, clearly not ecstatic about the voters’ choice. And the announcement to roll the new deputy came two days ago when Mayor Feyen stated on his FB page he’d received an email stating that …

 “all … Councilors have decided now they do not want Cr Ross Campbell as the Deputy Mayor…”

Horowhenua’s new Mayor Michael Feyen speaks about the cool reception he’s been given as new Mayor & describes how no justification has been offered for rolling his Deputy (apologies for video quality).

This all comes as no surprise given the turbulent history we’ve seen with this Council. Both councilors were ostracized historically for their insistence on truth and openness in Council dealings. Mayor Feyen, when a councilor, regularly posted videos on line exposing the pollution of Horowhenua and Manawatu waterways by both Council’s and local industry’s shoddy practices, saying HDC was a “top drawer polluter”. (See that video here plus his filming of Landcorp’s negligent practices).
Cr Campbell was vilified for filming the discharge of raw sewage into Shannon’s waterways, earlier this year (all denied by Council), and was physically assaulted in 2004 in relation to similar activity.

“Toe the line and deny any pollution by the HDC” the clear message given by HDC

His accomplice in his most recent capturing of evidence this year, was also physically assaulted and kicked, making headline news. For more info on those somewhat intriguing and surreal events go here. Basically, according to former Councilor Mrs Anne Hunt, the HDC has a culture of bullying Crs into denying Council’s role in polluting the waterways, that aside from telling its councilors how to vote. (See here also).

Other Issues

There are other issues these two have made known they are not happy about, like the relatively new council building that has large cracks in the basement. (CE Clapperton and the HDC establishment insist this is safe citing two prior reports done at the cost of some $135K). Mayor Feyen has ordered another independent inspection that he’s stated he is willing to resource himself if necessary. Then there’s the issue that HDC was instrumental in the decision to issue a third liquor license that Shannon locals did not want. More to come on that one. And the issue that HDC appear to not be consulting the public as thoroughly as they claim, witness the recent moving-of-the-Foxton cenotaph issue and the sale of the community housing stock. Finally, on the building cracks, HDC announced following the recent major quake on 13th November that there are no additional cracks … contrary to Mayor Feyen’s mention in his video update early on the morning after the quake that there were now more cracks. Perhaps quite aptly, as Alice in Wonderland would say, it’s all getting ‘curiouser and curiouser’. The new building was only opened in 2007, and it has large cracks in the basement … is this the new norm?

Note: this council, like many in NZ now, pay mere lip service to the nice sounding ‘sustainable development’ rhetoric that their websites are replete with, reflecting the UN’s forward thinking plan Agenda 21 which is not all that it seems. Under its watch NZ’s rivers have become 60 percent 14484651_1472593802754892_3596900895775183479_nunswimmable. Sustainable? Perhaps for corporate pockets but not for the environment. From the time councils were corporatised ie following Rogernomics in the late 1980s, they have masqueraded as democracies where in fact they are running on a business model (all registered at Dun and Bradstreet’s website). Right now, although the Mayor was voted in by the people, nevertheless the council appears to have him effectively hamstrung. At their first Council meeting following the election, the proposal to open the council’s books, and to not sell the community housing stock, were … as per usual … voted against by all except the Mayor and his new Deputy.

HDC has $100 Million Debt

As noted, Mayor Michael Feyen asked for Council’s books to be opened.(Read minutes at this link – opening-the-books-Horowhenua- DC November-2016)  Both he and Cr Campbell have been long time critics of the level of debt the Council is in (in spite of a supposedly well qualified CE who is paid the handsome salary of $250K + for his services). Indicative of the apparent power he holds perhaps? (By comparison the Mayor is paid only $99K).  Pre corporate take over we had a town clerk who was only moderately rewarded and he kept the council out of debt.
Prior to the election HDC’s regime was vehemently denying the level of debt the Council was in (said by them to be $68 million not $100 million). They’ve argued on a pinhead over that level which somewhat detracts from the real issue here. Why is $68 million or even $1 million debt acceptable? Whatever happened to the time-tested strategy of not spending what you don’t have, as Cr Campbell is pointing out in his video here? We all know that the borrower is servant to the lender. Back in 2014 when he tried to highlight the fiscal mismanagement of Council, he was told by the Mayor at the time that his question was “not liked” and he “wouldn’t be spoken to again!” A curious response.

Cr Ross Campbell recently describing one of his many attempts at reigning in the borrowing by HDC into exorbitant debt … this one was in 2014

So, here we have a responsible Cr trying repeatedly (wasn’t his first time) to steer the Council in more prudent directions, being told to pretty much ‘sit down and shut up’. And the Council has currently voted to not open the books. One would have to ask, are they hiding something? Perhaps it is the alleged ‘insider trading’ that Cr Campbell refers to in this video …

Cr Campbell speaks out about the former Mayor’s Economic Development Committee … one he called an ‘Economic Advantage Committee’, being comprised of non-elected members. Read the full transcript at this link. 

Our Mayor … some of you might not know this … our mayor has formed a group of his closest business associates. They’re the people who he mixes with. And together with these associates there are developers, there are retailers, there are manufacturers, contractors, who have been selected by him. They’ve formed themselves into what we call an Economic Development Committee. That’s what the Council calls it but I actually call it an Economic Advantage Committee … over their competitors  …   Cr Ross Campbell

Clearly this non-elected group has quite a lot to lose from hereon in with such environmentally friendly leadership in charge. No small wonder Cr Campbell is being rolled.

So, what do these two democratically elected, yet supposedly ‘renegade’ representatives of Horowhenua voters want for our district? … ah …

  • Clean drinking water
  • A clean Lake Horowhenua (chronically polluted by previous Councils to the extent it could now kill a small child if ingested)
  • a commuter train service from Levin to Wellington
  • the retention of Horowhenua’s affordable community housing for the elderly
  • no debt
  • clean recreational waterways
  • true partnership with iwi
  • the closure of the leachate leaking Levin Landfill
  • a stop to pollution of our waterways
  • opening of the Council books … honesty & transparency
  • more public participation at Council

Mayor Feyen remains hopeful and positive … in his own words he concludes:

” I’m very very positive and I know I’ve been voted in to make change, to look at fixing the water, to look at fixing Lake Horowhenua, to look at removing the dump, to looking at our books, to having governance lead this area, so this is commuter trains … everything I got voted in for … I’m definitely looking for public support… that’s what you voted for and I’ll continue working for those things while I’m here as the Mayor. It would most definitely be easier with my current Deputy Mayor so I’ll just see what life serves me up … just keeping you informed like I promised we would do”. 

Please do share this information. Like our new leaders we also want honesty and transparency. We want our Council to support the leadership chosen by the voters and move our district forward in true sustainable development … and not the kind that merely fattens corporate purses. We voted for change.


There will be a protest against the selling of the community housing, and the

rolling of the new Deputy Mayor Cr Ross Campbell … outside the HDC building at 126 Oxford Street in Levin on Wednesday 7th December! A peaceful protest … but one that will send a clear message that those who voted for our current Mayor are not happy with what is happening. Please come and bring a placard if you can.

You will find updates or changes at the Facebook page, at the Nua on our own FB pages and our petition page here (see menu). 



Council corruption – two Horowhenua Councilors concerned that decisions are being co-opted by a select group of non-elected representatives of the business community – close associates of Mayor Duffy

“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future… ”
Horowhenua District Council

The Horowhenua Dictrict Council’s Ross Campbell, elected representative of the Miranui

Horowhenua District Councilor Ross Campbell: concerned about the co-opting of Council decision making by business interests

Ward, expresses his growing concern about the way things at the HDC are run, in particular, with whom important information is shared and the way decisions are being made.

Horowhenua Mayor Duffy has a select Committee of close business associates – a non-elected, hand picked business group with no sworn allegiance to the district, that tells the elected councilors how to vote. Cr Campbell is not alone in his concern.

michael-feyen-hdc-councillorFellow Councilor Michael Feyen of Foxton confirms what Cr Campbell is saying  … “Take the time to have a listen to Councillor Ross Campbell’s very good summation of what we are up against in this HDC District. If the Horowhenua wants to progress it won’t be under the current regime.” Both Cr Feyen and Cr Campbell speak out regularly about the polluting practices of local government. Cr Campbell was allegedly assaulted in 2004 for his active part in this.


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Former Councilor Mrs Anne Hunt describes how she and other councilors were coerced to vote ‘correctly’

Readers may also recall former Councilor Mrs Anne Hunt expressed identical concerns earlier this year describing how they were coerced to vote ‘correctly’ using bullying tactics.

Listen to Cr Campbell’s recent announcement from his Facebook page (the following is a transcript):

“My name is Ross Campbell and as most of you know I’m the District Councilor for the Miranui Ward which takes in Tokomaru & Shannon, Opiki, Buckley & Mangaore and this lovely part of the district of Miranui.
I’ve got a few things that concern me when I’m in Council. One of them is these … we get a lot of information at Council … we get information from the NZTA you know, that’s the roading people; we get Government departments telling us all sorts of statistics and things, what they are likely to do and what they want to do. We get a lot of information from statistics of course, we get market trends, we get inquiries from overseas investments … we get information from Regional Councils, Health Boards and so it goes on … there’s a lot of information coming in. This information is meant to be used in briefings to councillors, to help them in their decisions, planning the district, and which way we want to go, if we want to go forward or we want to go sideways or whatever the case might be, and so we use this information to help us make decisions. But this concern is something that I want to bring to you … it’s not always the case.

Our Mayor … some of you might not know this … our Mayor has formed a group of his closest business associates. They’re the people who he mixes with. And together with these associates there are developers, there are retailers, there are manufacturers, contractors, who have been selected by him. They’ve formed themselves into what we call an Economic Development Committee. That’s what the Council calls it but I actually call it an Economic Advantage Committee … over their competitors. You see all the information that we receive is passed on to this committee who are not elected people … they’ve not been elected to be there by you, who may be arguably your closest competitor in your business, and these people all get an unfair advantage over their closest rivals, and that rival could be you.

Because of all this information coming in, they know where the trends are, they know the direction the council’s thinking. They are privy to information that gives them an advantage over others, especially at this time when we councillors are told often to be quiet about the different possibilities that may happen.

These business associates of the Mayor actually came to our table at Council the other night and addressed us and advised us to vote for the policies that would benefit them!

What is that? To me that’s insider trading. I call it that but you may call it something different. But I’m not allowed.

This handful of business associates that our Mayor has selected are receiving an advantage over their competitors, and it’s just not right. These folks have not been elected by you. They’ve never sworn allegiance to the district, and are being rewarded for their faithfulness to the Mayor.

Go figure. What do you think? Just last week a decision was made to announce to the retailers in Levin as to where the road of national significance was going. But we wouldn’t announce it until February 2017. As it was told to us by the Mayor we shouldn’t announce it before the election as the Mayor, because of this, could get skinned alive. So just whose interests are we looking after? Folks, we must get out there and vote, and elect those you trust … not those who are there to furnish the Mayor’s ego and their own business pockets. That is one of my concerns and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of the other concerns I have. They are concerns that I believe you need to know about … that we haven’t got a Council that’s working directly for you … we’ve got a Council that is working for the few.”



Now, take a look at the mission statement if you like, of the Horowhenua District Council copied straight from their website:

Council’s Responsibilities and Activities

“The purpose of the Horowhenua District Council is to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District in the present and for the future.   

Council is made up of the Mayor and 10 Councillors (elected members). They are responsible for determining local policy and legislation, and defining the overall vision for the Horowhenua District. Council makes decisions on behalf of the ratepayers and residents.”

The Mayor’s Role

“The Mayor is elected by the District “as a whole”, and as one of the elected members, shares the same responsibilities as other members of Council.” Some of the Mayor’s roles that relate to Cr Campbell’s concerns [abbreviated] are:

  • Advocate on behalf of the community
  • Provide leadership and feedback to other elected members on teamwork and chairing committees.

Here is a link to the full pdf file Governance Statement 2014 – 2017 A Guide for the Community on Council Processes

Councils nowadays are fine in their rhetoric, or should I say spin?  What they are doing is regularly a very different matter. They should be making decisions DEMOCRATICALLY … on behalf of ratepayers and residents, and not on behalf of the Mayor’s close business associates!!

Horowhenua people, see what is going on in your District governance. Be sure to vote for change this October.  Vote for honesty and transparency.

Please help us expose the corruption and lies by our local governments by sharing this information! 


Horowhenua Environmental Health Watch on FB



In Spite of their Spin the HDC is not Enabling Democratic Decision Making
Local Govt Watch
Agenda 21/30 in NZ


“The tactics Horowhenua District Council used to discourage people from commenting on sewage spills is long-standing and insidious” … More revelations from former Councillor Anne Hunt

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“The tactics Horowhenua District Council used to discourage people from commenting on sewage spills is long-standing and insidious … the whole thrust of one workshop was aimed at undermining the credibility of WECA (Water and Environmental Care Assn Inc.) members”  

“We were given a plausible explanation from staff” and then urged to “get [the message] out there because these people who were complaining didn’t know what they were talking about … as I was generally kept out of the loop, only occasionally did I hear what tactics they were planning to use to discredit these people”

Former HDC Councillor, Anne Hunt

In our previous articles on the topic of the Horowhenua District Council’s role in pollution of its waterways with inadequately treated sewage (see links to articles below) former Councillor Anne Hunt described how Mayor Brendan Duffy had coerced Councillors into  supporting the Council CEO’s assertion that HDC was not guilty of polluting Lake Horowhenua. In other words “deny it”.

In 2007 Councillors Were Expected to “Toe the Line” on Shannon’s Waste Water Treatment (or lack thereof)

Mrs Hunt also described a second occasion when she and her fellow Councillors were expected to “toe the line”. (Go here to read of the first).

This occurred shortly before the election in 2007, the year she first contested the Mayoralty.

Once again, the problem was the Shannon waste water treatment.

In the Environment Court a couple of years later, HDC would admit “pumping 5.1 million litres of partially treated sewage into the Manawatu River” (Dominion Post 2007).

Here in the video you will see straight sewage going into Stansell’s Drain 

Horizons lawyer Ben Vanderkolk told the Court that 5000 cubic metres of sewage was pumped into Stansell’s Drain over 48 hours. “Rudimentary” filter screens including plastic netting had been erected at the entrance to the drain, but this had not stopped contaminants and some sanitary items entering the stream. (Dominion Post 2007)

At the time, HDC had tried to hush it up, and ironically it was Ross Campbell who alerted Cr Hunt to the problem. Stansell’s Drain feeds into the Mangaore tributary of the Manawatu River. There were whitebaiters downstream, so it was a serious health issue.

“There were whitebaiters downstream, so it was a serious health issue”  

Horizons had decided to take legal action against the Horowhenua, admitting that it should have been harder on Horowhenua earlier, so that the years of waste being pumped into the drain could have been stopped.

It was dubbed by Green Party MP Russel Norman as a “terrible example of environmental pollution” and Massey University ecologist Mike Joy said the discharge would have had a big impact on the river which was already severely polluted.

“…once again the elected members were expected to support the public relations spin from HDC” 

Behind the scenes, there was a flurry of e-mails highly critical of Horizons, Mrs Hunt remembers, and once again the elected members were expected to support the public relations spin from HDC.

Ratepayers would be stung twice with legal costs for their district and regional councils, and ultimately the fine.

David Ward as district’s chief executive at the time would later try to claim that by pleading guilty, the council was ‘taking a responsible attitude”, and ratepayers ‘should be pleased’ additional legal costs had been avoided.

HDC’s resource consent for Shannon had expired in 2001, but a temporary renewal was issued for four years while a new consent was sought.

Despite a council meeting that week, Councillors were not notified when an application for a new resource consent was eventually filed in 2005. WECA filed a submission on this proposal.  When Councillors were finally allowed to have some input into an amended proposal, Mrs Hunt says …

“…the whole thrust of this workshop was aimed at undermining the credibility of *WECA members …”

Mrs Hunt says the tactics used to discourage people from commenting on sewage spills is longstanding and insidious.

This week, her priority is supporting Cr Ross Campbell who is facing a code of conduct complaint as a result of his comments on TV 3. Mrs Hunt had several of those during her time on council.

So Who is your District Council Representing?

Being kept “out of the loop” meant that Mrs Hunt was effectively prohibited from representing your (the rate payers’) wishes with regard to protecting  your resources. I would reiterate here, these Councillors are elected by you. You should rightfully expect that your views are going to be reasonably represented by them. This is fundamental to democracy. It is very reasonable to expect that the voiced concerns of Councillors who are fulfilling their role, will not be overridden by a CEO. However, this is where the conflict lies. These CEOs are operating as directors of companies. Consider, 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

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’?

As for silencing District Councillors from speaking out, people should be more than outraged at this. It is a clear abuse of the role entrusted to them by you the public. 

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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Thank you!



*(Note, WECA is also on Facebook)
See below for references for this article


Exposing the pollution of your waterways may well incur a violent backlash as two Horowhenua residents found out – the ongoing lip service Councils pay to Iwi, the RMA & ‘sustainable development’

“Toe the line and deny any pollution by the HDC” was the clear message given by Mayor Brendan Duffy to Horowhenua District Councillors – a former HD Councillor speaks out

Horowhenua District Council’s pollution whistleblower has been served a trespass warrant – so what’s to hide?

“HDC is a top drawer polluter” says another Horowhenua District Councillor who filmed similar pollution to Shannon’s 14 months ago – he says HDC’s recent take was “misleading & full of half-truths”



3 Oct 08 Manawatu Standard-Lake Horowhenua Contamination from Sewage Confirmed 

Sad Time for Lake Horowhenua – Green Party Press Release 2 Sept 08

Sewage Ponds Overflow at Lake Horowhenua Green Party Press Release 21 Aug 08 – Russel Norman gets offside with local Council 26 Aug 08