Tag Archives: David Ward

“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

2Copy of Anne

“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.

 

If you agree with this article please like our Horowhenua &/or Rangitikei FB pages and share – help us to expose lies and promote truth.

See our Local Govt Watch pages (Horowhenua sub pagefor more info & links, &/or search categories for further articles (at left of any page). 

Please also consider following our blog (right of any page) and do spread the word on all the untruths we have been told! Use the share buttons! 

Thank you!

 

EnvirowatchRangitikei

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

RELATED:

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”

 

SOURCES FOR ARTICLE:

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

 

 

 

“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

” … 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

2Copy of Anne

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.

dr russel norman by lake pic credit green party
Dr Russel Norman standing by Lake Horowhenua on his visit to HDC in 2008 – he correctly concludes the lake was contaminated with E.coli [Photo Credit: Green Party]
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.

WWTP and Lake
Aerial photograph by Dr Norman showed groundwater from earthworks at the plant was pouring into the lake and creating a plume of dirtier lake water

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?

Clearly not.

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.

 

EnvirowatchRangitikei

 

If you agree with this article please like our FB page and share – help us to expose lies and promote truth.

RELATED:

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’

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”

“The whole thrust of one workshop was aimed at undermining the credibility of WECA members” … More revelations from a former Councillor on Horowhenua DC’s “long-standing & insidious” tactics

 

SOURCES FOR ARTICLE:

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