A truthful commentary from Horowhenua’s ex Mayor Michael Feyen on the pollution issues regarding Lake Horowhenua & more importantly why they are not being properly addressed. Not an uncommon story in this era of neo lib economics. Michael is able to share from the unique standpoint of a former insider. Whilst mayor & prior to that a councilor, he was largely censored and silenced from speaking out on these important issues that DCs largely pay lip service to (see other links below). Very brief notes also below but do listen to the full commentary. About 22 minutes in length. EWR
HDC, DoC & Horizons have used the divide & rule concept with the guardians of Lake Horowhenua.
Sediment traps put in by council without consents.
Unfinished audit that should have been finalised before ex Mayor Feyen’s departure. No independent audit either. Unheard of for annual plan to not be signed off before elections. No audit at HDC for at least 12 years.
No confidence in DoC’s handling of the issue.
No confidence in the Lake Horowhenua Lake Domain Board.
Incestuous development system in town where ratepayers pay for infrastructure and developers don’t.
Hidden reasons as to why the lake is being left the way it is.
Similar pollution & other issues going on at the Foxton River Loop.
Priority given to the ‘edifices’ rather than the essential issues.
At least $1.5 million of unauthorised payments made by Council
Audit NZ and the Maori Land Court have both revealed evidence that Horowhenua District Council made at least $1.5 million of unauthorised and undocumented payments to preferred projects .
Audit New Zealand said there was no, “formal evidence of the existence” of $615,135 spent by the Council on the interior design of the nationally acclaimed Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom cultural and community centre in Foxton.
The Audit report for the year ended 30 June 2018 said, “The Council could not provide any supporting documentation, or signed contracts to corroborate the amounts recognised” as spent on interior design work.
The Dutch Connection Trust and Te Taitoa Maori o Te Awahou partnered with the Council in a “Dutch museum, library…Concept Plan for Foxton” first championed by Council in the 2008 Horowhenua Development Plan.
The project also received $500,000 from the Foxton Beach Freeholding Fund, held in trust by Council, and ratepayers continue to pay about $500,000 annually due to a short-fall in funding for the $8.6 million Foxton centre.
Council also made unauthorised payments of at least $980,000 to Lake Horowhenua Trust for projects championed by the Lake Accord widely recognised as being the brainchild of former mayor Brendan Duffy who is named deputy chair in the 2014-2016 Lake Accord strategy.
In total Lake Horowhenua Trust received $1.5 million from the Environment Ministry between 2014 and 2016 including $540,000 from the Fresh Start for Freshwater Fund and $980,000 from the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund for Lake Accord projects.
On 5 March this year the Maori Land Court in Levin heard former Lake Horowhenua Trust chair Matthew Sword say the trust “approached HDC about providing a cash flow” in advance of the $980,000 Te Mana o Te Wai Fund. Mr Sword is Lake Accord chair.
Mr Sword told the court the way it worked was as a “revolving ledger” where the Council would put money into a trust account and then, after a period of time, the “ledger would be reversed out to 0.”
Last November the court heard four subsidiary bank accounts set up by the trust and used by the Council to deposit the money into only avoided prosecution under anti-money laundering legislation because the trust’s primary account was opened before the legislation was introduced. The legislation requires the correct name of entities to be used on bank accounts.
Mr Sword chaired the trust until late last year when the appointment of all former trustees was quashed by the Maori Appellate Court due to a conflict of interest by Judge Doogan who made the appointments.
Lake Accord projects also received another $730,000 of ratepayer money from Horowhenua District Council and regional council ratepayers and “in-kind support” from the farming and agricultural sectors.
Lake Accord members include statutory bodies Horowhenua District Council, the Manawatu-Wanganui regional council Horizons, Lake Horowhenua Domain Board, the Conservation Department and Lake Horowhenua Trust. Meetings held by the Lake Accord are closed to the public.
The pensioner housing for the elderly in the Horowhenua has sold for the song of $5.5 million. “Information leaked to Stuff reveals the council is selling the pensioner units to a new company called Compassion Horowhenua for $5.5 million – a price some sources have labelled a bargain”. (Stuff) That will be the company we recently noted was formed ONE WEEK before the sale, fronting (?) for Willis & Bond, large property developers who surely wouldn’t need a bargain & will likely be laughing all the way to the bank right now. Stuff doesn’t say too much about the front company. This was a fire sale price indeed. Mayor Feyen was right about that. Still think they shouldn’t be opening the books at HDC?
I’ve heard estimates that the housing was actually worth around $25 million. There were 115 houses/units which equates to around a measly $47K per unit according to my rough calculations. Quite a bargain isn’t it?
So, councils have economic development committees (Cr Campbell was slammed last year for criticizing Horowhenua’s EDC ) … presumably they would have been involved in the sale, or at least consulted, managing the economic development of Horowhenua as they do & surely having their fingers on the pulse of property values? If it was them, then IMO they need to be sacked. All of them. Eight prominent businessmen, we were proudly told the day Cr Campbell was ousted as DM. Where are their skills, or the skills of whomever did sell them? (and of course we may never know since it was all behind closed doors). Not only that, we were promised they would sell to a community housing provider not a property developer. As we know they’ve gotten around that by signing the Sisters of Compassion up via their new company (‘Compassion Horowhenua’) to add the promised wrap-around service that’s yet to be defined (and surely, where are their ethics?) & I’m not holding my breath on that one. I suspect the Horowhenua Ratepayers Assn’s concerns about land banking could likely be correct. In Tamaki (article soon to come on that), land banking has been occurring with many state homes sitting empty since 2012 … and we have 41K homeless in our country. Our government/corporation has NO SHAME. And as for this debacle. ‘Compassion Horowhenua’? They think we all came down in the last shower. And if this is true, they will get away with it because they can.
By the way, the article says they consulted vigorously. They consulted vigorously with the tenants over a free dinner, hardly ethical. And pensioners who opposed the idea were smartly shut down. At least that is what two pensioners have told me. (For further info from whistle blowers on HDC’s questionable goings on see our Horowhenua page under Local Govt Watch at the main menu). EnvirowatchRangitikei
Council-owned pensioner housing sells for $5.5 million
The controversial sale of council-owned pensioner housing in Horowhenua includes measures to protect tenants, but not enough to satisfy opponents of the move.
Grey Power Horowhenua is worried the 115 pensioner units in Levin, Foxton and Shannon could soon be offered to other social housing users, instead of just pensioners, when ownership changes hands.
The sale has attracted widespread opposition because much of the wheeling and dealing has taken place behind closed council doors, although the Horowhenua District Council says it consulted rigorously.
Information leaked to Stuff reveals the council is selling the pensioner units to a new company called Compassion Horowhenua for $5.5 million – a price some sources have labelled a bargain.
Thought it timely for a reblog of this important article. Keeping up with the play I believe it may now be possible for the public to attend these meetings. Great news. You can find out the times, venue etc at the HDC website. (The article does refer to a protest etc which is obviously historic and the Deputy Mayor was rolled. Nevertheless the remainder of the content still remains pertinent for today).
“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!” Cr Ross Campbell
Last July it was brought to our attention by the currently-being-rolled Deputy Mayor (then) Councilor Ross Campbell, that a certain group within the HDC called the Economic Development Committee, was actually functioning in an advisory capacity to the district’s ELECTED representatives, the HDC Councilors. That economic group is comprised of:
EIGHT NON-ELECTED members of the business community … developers, retailers, manufacturers, contractors… and TWO ELECTED COUNCILORS, who in turn are advising ELECTED COUNCILORS how they should vote.
The Economic Development Committee is privy to information that the public isn’t
These people are privy to information that the public isn’t. Now this is not right, to have information that puts you at an advantage over your competitors…
In September last year a protest was staged by both Te Awahou (Foxton) tangata whenua and other local Foxton residents regarding the proposed moving of the cenotaph by the Horowhenua District Council (HDC). The cenotaph is placed over a urupa ( burial ground) and is a wahi tapu (sacred site). Following discussions, an agreement was made by HDC that there would be no more work on the main street beyond Wharf Street, or shifting of the cenotaph, until further consultation took place.
“On February 27th the HDC advised that the CE (David Clapperton) has decided to go ahead, THIS WEDNESDAY, 1ST. MARCH 2017, WITHOUT the further dialogue that he PROMISED would take place WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED. This promise was made at the Cenotaph “gathering” last September IN FRONT of a Police Mediator, and it was on THAT PROMISE, we dismantled our camp at the Cenotaph.” William McGregor
Read the full information provided by Mr McGregor & quoted from his FB post:
“Well, the day is finally here – H.D.C. has decided that work on the Main Street “Re-construction” is about to re-commence, REGARDLESS of the Public out-cry for the more important things (like Drinkable water to ALL house-holds, a more “long-term” solution to the waste-water/sewerage which they intend to spray onto the land over the river on Matakarapa – pray there isn’t a Westerly wind; you’ll get the “drift” straight in the face in town 😦 – and retaining affordable housing for the “Elderly” of Foxton).
They would like you all to be EXTREMELY HAPPY with a Water-tower that glows different colours in the night, and two fill-your-own water “out-lets” – one in town, & one at the beach.
So now, the NEXT IMPORTANT priority on their books is to NARROW the Main Street, put “resting Islands in the middle of the road, and place “garden plots around the street to EMULATE all the OTHER towns in the district, DESPITE THE FACT that the MAJORITY of Foxtonians would rather leave the Main Street alone, and concentrate on the more IMPORTANT THINGS!
Else-where we have seen “written comments” from people who have lived in ALL those towns From Waikanae in the South to Whanganui in the West – Fielding/Palmerston North in the North to Ashhurst …. ALL of them are replicas of each other, and I’m sure would “cut off their left arm” to have the wide Main Street we have in Foxton!
I received a courtesy call from the Mayor (Michael Feyen) that the C.E. (David Clapperton) has decided to go ahead, THIS WEDNESDAY, 1ST. MARCH 2017, WITHOUT further dialogue that he PROMISED would take place WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED. This promise was made at the Cenotaph “gathering” last September IN FRONT of a Police Mediator, and it was on THAT PROMISE, we dismantled our camp at the Cenotaph.
I was warned at the time not to trust “his word”, and to (at least) get it down on paper; you were right Corney – I was too trusting.
It was mentioned that “we” had called on the “Nomads” to back us up; that they THREATENED workers at the Cenotaph.
That is a COMPLETE LIE! Those members of the Nomads who were present are Whanau, and their PROTEST was the same as ours; THIS IS THEIR TOWN TOO!
NO-ONE was EVER THREATENED – in any way, shape or form.
I ask ANY-ONE who feels they need to “stooped to THIS LEVEL of fabricating” to cease it IMMEDIATELY; you really need to “grow a pair” ….
So, I serve notice here that I, and ANYONE ELSE who wants to accompany me am NOT going to sit “idly by” – I am going to stand in the way of ANY WORK continuing until that PROMISE is FULFILLED.
I am passive; my intentions are non-violent as are those who choose to accompany me; my word is my bond – (unlike others I have met associated with this FIASCO)!
I am going to get EVERY “MEDIA” I can to cover this T.V./Paper/Radio – we live in a DEMOCRACY …. We have a DEMOCRATIC RIGHT to know WHY the majority is being IGNORED, and just WHO is BENEFITING from elevating this “cosmetic make-over” ahead of the BASIC RIGHTS for ALL HOUSE-HOLDS of the Te Awahou “Rohe”!
I also want a “Petition” showing those FOR, and those AGAINST this Main-Street “make-over” which I will take to the HIGHEST AUTHORITY IN THE LAND if necessary; NO “handful” of people should be able to hold a WHOLE TOWN TO RANSOM!
So, Nau mai, haere mai, haere, haere, haere ….
Come down & keep me company, help me with your say in the Petition, and ANY-ONE with ANY IDEAS please feel free to suggest them.
Unlike the H.D.C., “we” WILL listen …..
(And this Invitation is to EVERY-ONE; a Nomad “Patch” is NOT a reflection of how a person feels about their home town – you are ALL WELCOME – no prejudices here!)
I will be there around 5:00am – Wednesday 1ST March 2017″
The cenotaph is situated at the northern end of the town’s main street. The protest at the cenotaph last year was part of the proposed plans by HDC for a very controversial street revamp that many Foxton locals do not want. Two weeks ago Council representatives gave a presentation of their intended street plan at a public venue in Foxton which brought out again the ongoing opposition by the public that exists to the revamp. The street is unique in its width and locals want it to stay that way.
They would prefer that the intended $1.6 million spend on the street be spent on cleaning up the drinking water and opening up the river loop at Foxton where the water is stagnant and polluted.
During last year’s protest, a meeting was organized at the Foxton Police Station between the protest leaders and HDC’s CE David Clapperton. Then Councilor Michael Feyen (now the Mayor) was not permitted to attend. That meeting ended with the promise from the CE of no further work without further consultation with the public. That point was pressed home in Mayor Michael Feyen’s concluding address at HDC’s recent presentation. He continues to maintain his stance against the street narrowing.
Paying Lip Service to Treaty Principles
The Horowhenua District Council’s website does pay tribute to the ongoing important relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown, however in light of these events it is leaning somewhat towards lip service:
Maori see people and the environment as closely inter-related and share with us a strong interest in maintaining and protecting the environment
Horowhenua District Council recognises the importance and special position of tangata whenua within the region.
Council seeks closer and meaningful working relationships with the Maori community
Council is committed to the continuing process of consultation with Maori in the District
Council recognises the principals of the Treaty of Waitangi and kaitiakitanga, providing for the relationship of Maori and their traditions with their ancestral lands, water sites, waahi tapu and other taonga
For those who don’t know Shannon, it is a small town on State Highway 57 between Palmerston North and Levin in the lower North Island. Recently it featured in the news media following the filming by Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Campbell, of HDC’s pollution of the local waterways. You can read about these events that saw Cr Campbell trespassed, at this link.
More recently, Cr Campbell conducted a street poll to air the proposal by Council of issuing another liquor license in the town. Shannon already has two off license outletsand five licensed outlets, and the public voted an overwhelming 309 to 3 against. Now that is a clear message from constituents to at the very least hold off, and at most to conduct a proper survey of the town.
But no, the HDC Licensing Chair-person Councilor Ross Brannigan and Committee and obviously the Police thought otherwise and granted yet another license!
Disappointed with this outcome, Cr Campbell, who has fought hard for this community, commented that he thought the Police would have been more supportive of locals’ wishes especially with this issue.
Now, I’ve noticed for some time now, as have many others, that DCs seem to not really be listening to what their constituents say. The official spin if you like on their websites tends to sound very democratic but in practice, in reality, as can be seen from all of the above, they are everything but democratic. A former Cr, Mrs Anne Hunt, recently went public and divulged the persuasive measures that HDC take with their own, coercing them to deny the facts about certain issues. Something is clearly not right with local government in NZ, the HDC being no exception. Here for instance, to illustrate, is some of their spin, quoted from HDC’s own website (our emphases):
Council’s Functions, 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.
In meeting its purpose, the Horowhenua District Council has a variety of roles:
Facilitating solutions to local needs
Advocacy on behalf of the local community with central government, other local authorities and other agencies
Management of local infrastructure including network infrastructure (eg roading, water supply, waste disposal, libraries, parks and recreational facilities)
Environmental management planning for the current and future needs of the local district.
So there is a discrepancy right there in the first paragraph:
…to enable democratic local decision making to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being of the Horowhenua District
In this instance, clearly demonstrated by Cr Campbell, they are not enabling democratic local decision making. Locals commenting on social media clearly reflected that they neither needed nor wanted more liquor outlets so HDC is neither consulting nor listening to locals and … facilitating solutions to local needs.(Their own words).
So who needs more liquor outlets? … no prizes for guessing that one … the liquor companies of course.
So the question that needs to be asked here is … why is a supposedly responsible DC favoring the wishes of the liquor industry, over the people who voted them in?
Hopefully the locals will be phoning those who made this decision on their behalf .. (in particular Cr Ross Brannigan in case you missed it) to ask them “why”? Why are they contradicting their own policy statements?
We need to be speaking up about these matters … our silence is interpreted as consent.
The contact details for all councilors and others who are serving you the rate payers, can be found on the respective Council websites. And remember, elections are coming up soon … be sure to vote, and vote for those who are genuinely for changing the current status quo.
“A 70-year-old man has been bashed in a late night attack at his home in Horowhenua. Staunch environmentalist John Andrews says he may have been a target as he had highlighted pollution issues from the Shannon Sewage Treatment Plant into the Otāuru River.” (Maori Television)
Mr Andrews said he had been attacked from behind on his own property, kicked and bashed in the head and other parts of his body. He said he saw three men in the attack and a possible fourth as well. When this incident first appeared on Facebook he was reported as saying that the parting comment of one of his attackers were words to the effect of “Lord Duffy said ‘hello'”. (Here is a link to Stuff’s report on the attack).
Although the Facebook post made it clear Mr Andrews was just relaying what was said, and not saying he connected the incident with Levin’s Mayor Brendan Duffy, ensuing comments in the media have understandably, correctly or otherwise, suggested there is a link. Any connection with the incident however is denied by the Mayor.
“We had had an altercation with the Regional Council earlier in the day out there and I don’t know if there’s any connection and I would only be speculating if there was, but this fight has been going on for years,” John Andrews. (by Maori Television)
Mr Andrews had been at the Mangaore Stream earlier in the day with Horowhenua District Councillor Ross Campbell, when Cr Campbell filmed footage of the treatment ponds and the discharging of raw sewage into the steam. Cr Andrews had then talked with a worker at the plant, who agreed to turn the pump off.
Subsequently, footage of sewage and toilet paper in the water was posted on social media, footage that the HDC claims is a distortion of facts, even suggesting the toilet paper was put there by somebody. (View footage here). (There were other videos posted also which may or may not be related but do indicate the concern that exists with this pollution).
The Pollution of Lake Horowhenua
This is not the first time this Council has come under the spotlight for pollution of its natural water resources, or that people who have highlighted pollution have incurred a violent backlash. As indicated, the fight over pollution has been going on with the HDC for years. This claim is borne out in the history of Lake Horowhenua, a natural resource that is owned by the Muaupoko Iwi. This once pristine lake, dubbed by the Listener as the ‘lake of shame’, had been transformed from a valuable source of income and kai … into a literal toilet bowl. Raw sewage had been pumped into it for two decades starting in the 1950s (tantamount to emptying a septic tank’s contents onto your vegetable garden) and although it ceased in the 1980s, the lake has continued to be polluted to this day by effluent from surrounding dairy farming, by some sewage and from local agricultural activity. The price tag to clean up the pollution and realize the dream of having swimmers cross the lake last ANZAC day (2015) was estimated by Horizons to be $2.886 million. It is one of the top ten most polluted lakes in New Zealand and testing has revealed just a small glassful has the potential to kill a small child. A former HDC Councilor Anne Hunt said when in office, that one of the worst polluters of the lake was the HDC (see video at 3.56 minutes). The Crown has admitted this:
“The Crown has conceded it failed to protect Lake Horowhenua from pollution, breached the Treaty of Waitangi on multiple occassions and left the Muaupoko iwi virtually landless…”(Waitangi Tribunal Hearing 2015)
The lake’s guardian, Phil Taueki, Muaupoko, explains:
“We agreed to share it with the public but there are certain rules we ask them to respect to protect the lake … we have to hold those who are accountable for allowing our most prized taonga to be turned into the town’s toilet … “
The following video explains the lake’s history and the fight by its owners for decades to keep it clean. See also the Listener’s article here.
Lack of Respect for Sacred Sites & Blatant Disregard for the Resource Management Act 1991
Local Maori in Shannon, Ngati Whakatere, have recently protested (late 2015) about the Council’s lack of respect for sacred Maori sites with regard to their excavations. (See video BELOW). The Resource Management Act 1991 clearly requires consultation with local Iwi around any intentions to excavate, however the Council simply is not listening.
In the first video about Lake Horowhenua (at 6 minutes), Mayor Duffy (interviewed by Karley Hemopo of Marae TV) clearly displays his blatant disrespect both for Maori values and for the Resource Management Act which the HDC (that he represents) is legally required to observe and adhere to. He states when asked what the objections by Maori regarding excavation by the Council were (in the case of the Queen Street storm drain) he states:
“Oh God knows … it’ll be around … it’s a burial site or … a burial site? … I don’t think so…”
The Resource Management Act, dating from 1991, lists “matters of national importance” that are to be protected in any decision:
Matters of national importance (The Resource Management Act 1991)
“In achieving the purpose of this Act, all persons exercising functions and powers under it, in relation to managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources, shall recognise and provide for the following matters of national importance: …..
(e) the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, and other taonga:
(f) the protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development:
Soon after Mayor Duffy’s statement in the video (at 6.23 minutes) an interview with a land owner and lake trustee Vivienne Taueki reveals she approached HDC about their own objections even before construction began in 2004 yet Council states they have no record of such objections.
The Ongoing Lip Service Councils Pay to ‘Preserving & Enhancing Natural and Cultural Resources’ and ‘Sustainable Development’
For a few years now we’ve been hearing that term ‘sustainable development’. It’s often accompanied by the term ‘smart’, implying clever and is related to goal setting and achievement. You can read the full definition of these two terms here however below is a small quote:
Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its sustainable development goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural andcultural resources; and promote public health. SOURCE
You will see these terms displayed on our Regional and District Council websites, and on our Horizons websites, those authorities that are entrusted with the care of our environment. The Sustainable Land Use Initiative (SLUI) for instance “will not only protect and conserve our valuable hill country soil resources, but also address water quality issues and improve downstream flood protection.”
So, with the rhetoric that exists in all of these policy statements relating to the oft quoted Long Term plans, we should have very clean water at least. Yes?
But no. NZ wide we have waterways that are unsafe to swim in any more. The Manawatu River has earned the dubious ‘honour’ of being the most polluted river in the Southern Hemisphere. See here and here, short video clips about the pollution of that river by a HDC Cr Michael Feyen. Clearly the Horowhenua waterways are no exception.
So, ironically, the authorities mandated with protecting our natural environment and resources seem to be failing miserably in their ‘performance objectives’ (you know, ‘sustainable, smart’ and all of that?) Here in the Rangitikei we have the same issue going on with the pollution of our own Tutaenui Stream where our District Council (RDC) has a long legacy of non compliance with consents and no in-stream biota survey (assessing the aquatic life of the stream) for over a decade, a report that’s required three yearly. (I asked our Mayor Andy Watson twelve months ago when there would next be one … he advised me to email the Council on that … no reply yet). And the fudging of the amounts of leachate dumped into our WWTP (waste water treatment plant) by a very considerable amount (like up to 12 tanker loads per day not the stated 2-3 per 1-2 days). These authorities appear to act more favourably towards corporate interests than those of the people who elected them.
The Alleged ‘Unhealthy Relationship’ that Exists between HDC and Police
Consider also the unhealthy relationship cited by Phil Taueki that’s alleged to exist between the HDC’s Mayor and the Police. In the Lake Horowhenua video above, Mr Taueki, when arrested(see at 1.07 minutes) for trying to enforce protection of the lake, was refused permission by Police to lock up his premises, and returned the next day to find his property and car trashed. Where is the due process of the law and justice in these matters when Mr Taueki attempts to highlight matters of pollution? Additionally, Mr Taueki says that 75% of the charges against him over the past two years in this respect have been dropped before they ever got to Court.
To offer you food for thought on all of that, consider this; your local District Councils are registered on Dun and Bradstreet’s website as companies. (Check this out for yourself). A company is:
“… anyformalbusinessentityforprofitwhichmay be a corporation, a partnership,association or individualproprietorship…” 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’?
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 FB page and share – help us to expose lies and promote truth.
An article in the Manawatu Standard reports on a Waitangi Tribunal Hearing that began in Levin today, 5th October 2015
A visit to the Horowhenua district earlier this year led me to discover the shocking history of this lake, in particular, the way the owners, the Muaupoko Iwi have been treated throughout the whole process. (Lake Horowhenua is near Levin). Download and read the whole history of the Lake and how it was incrementally taken over, a long but essential read to understand the background of this story:
“In the beginning.. Not content with the land they lived on, it wasn’t long before the settlers of Levin coveted the lake as well. Lake Horowhenua belongs to Mua-Upoko who had been forced to watch helplessly as ancestral lands, placed in ordinary property titles, disappeared through scurrilous means. A Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry had ferreted out fraudulent activities, not only by those purporting to represent the tribe but by Central Government itself…” Read more here.
Stories like this one are not rare in our indigenous histories … they are just generally unreported in mainstream media. It is also the typical scenario where the costs of preventing environmental damage are ignored in favour of short term profits. The lake has seen decades of pollution (1950s-70s) in the form of human sewage that completely polluted both the food sources and the livelihood of Muaupoko and caused many to leave. Then there has been the surrounding farming and agricultural runoff. Muaupoko who have endeavoured to keep the lake clean have been vilified and maligned as being not the true owners. The official history in fact, also borne out by today’s article in the Standard, reveals their ownership has been whittled away from them incrementally by convoluted land laws and processes, and “left with “a mere sliver” of the 50,000 acres it once had”, again typical in our histories. The lake’s kaitiaki, Phil Taueki has been involved in an ongoing uphill battle in that respect with locals, Council and Police in his efforts to stop ongoing pollution. He featured recently on Kaitiaki Wars (available on demand) and also in this news item from Marae TV on the history and on the Horowhenua District Council’s stance. Taueki states that the lake, “… a prized taonga” has been “turned into the town’s toilet…”
The lake is now so polluted(video)* it was dubbed in a 2014 Listener article as the ‘Lake of shame’. It is not safe to drink or to swim in. A National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research scientist reported in 2012 that the “water in Lake Horowhenua is so toxic that it could kill a small child.” There were plans this year (2015) for swimmers to commemorate ANZAC by crossing the lake (once the training venue for Lord General Freyberg before WWI) however the cost to clean it up was $2.886 million, clearly not a priority. The non priority status of this issue is reflected in the tight time frame given it by the Crown for this hearing, a fact highlighted by Land Claim lawyer Leo Watson.
Crown Concedes it Failed to Protect Lake Horowhenua from Pollution
By NICHOLAS MCBRIDE “The Crown has conceded it failed to protect Lake Horowhenua from pollution, breached the Treaty of Waitangi on multiple occasions and left the Muaupoko iwi virtually landless.
The Waitangi Tribunal hearing opened at the Horowhenua Events Centre in Levin on Monday, with 22 claims looking at Lake Horowhenua, Hokio Stream and the Horowhenua land block.
“We believe this will be one of the most profound hearings we will have in this district,” Judge Caren Fox said on the opening morning of the tribunal.
In its written submission, released before the hearing, the Crown acknowledged that the Muaupoko iwi had “well-founded grievances”.
It breached the Treaty of Waitangi and this allowed Lake Horowhenua to become polluted…
In the opening submissions for claimants, lawyer Leo Watson, speaking on the Hokio A land claim and Horowhenua Lake claim, said the Crown had perpetrated wrongs against Muaupoko, causing “profound generational impacts”….
the Crown had not acted in good faith, not talked with Muaupoko and had failed to protect the lake.
It had also been left with “a mere sliver” of the 50,000 acres it once had.”