Tag Archives: Lake Accord

An audit reveals that Horowhenua District Council made at least $1.5 million of unauthorised and undocumented payments to preferred projects

By Veronica Harrod

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.

Horowhenua District Council illegally turned off & denied a resident water supply for 8 months

I believe the water has now been reinstated following news media reports on the situation. This is a story of undeniable harassment and intimidation that is shocking beyond belief. Anne Hunt’s book (link in the article) that exposes this debacle is available free for download. See also our Local Govt Watch / Horowhenua pages at the main menu.  EnvirowatchRangitikei

Horowhenua District Council illegally turned off resident’s water supply

by Veronica Harrod

Curiously media enquiries about why Horowhenua resident Philip Taueki’s water supply to the place where he lives beside Lake Horowhenua was illegally turned off eight months ago were answered by Lake Horowhenua Trust chairperson Matthew Sword.

But the letter from MidCentral District Health Board (MDHB) was not sent to Mr Sword it was sent to chief executive David Clapperton because council is the only agency with legislative powers governing water supply.

The letter sent to Mr Clapperton by MDHB public health services clinical director and medical officer of health Dr Rob Weir states, “There is clearly a dispute…I do not have a view on those matters other than to note that my understanding is that Mr Taueki continues to reside in the nursery buildings.”

“On one view it seems that the Lake Horowhenua Trust has requested that the Council disconnect the water supply to the nursery in order to induce Mr Taueki to leave the property. It seems clear that under both the Health Act and the Local Government Act any direction from Lake Horowhenua Trust to disconnect the water supply to the nursery building (regardless of whether it is the property owner or not) is illegal.”

“While a local authority may restrict water supply it must not create unsanitary conditions..Even where a person has committed an offence under the Local Government Act, a local authority is only entitled to restrict water supply rather than disconnecting the water supply.”

If Mr Taueki had not made a request under the Official Information Act for the release of the letter MDHB sent Mr Clapperon on August 30 he would still be ignorant of the fact his water supply had been illegally turned off.

Apart from a brief respite for less than one day Mr Taueki’s water supply remains turned off almost as if the council and Mr Sword want to create unsanitary conditions. Mr Sword is also the Lake Accord chair.

The Accord signed in 2013 to “rehabilitate and protect the health of the lake” comprises Horizons Regional Council, Horowhenua District Council, Horowhenua Lake Domain Board, the Department of Conservation and Lake Horowhenua Trust.

Yet two Lake Accord partners, Lake Horowhenua Trust and Horowhenua District Council, are colluding to act in a way that creates unsanitary conditions at very lake they have signed an accord to “rehabilitate and protect the health of.”

Horowhenua representatives on MDHB remain silent on the matter. Horowhenua representatives include deputy chair Brendan Duffy and Mayor Micheal Feyen. Mayor Feyen was elected to the board and Mr Duffy was appointed deputy chair by former health minister Jonathon Coleman following the 2016 local body elections when Mr Duffy was unseated by Mr Feyen after a 12 year reign.

The matter of Mr Taueki’s water supply being turned off was raised publicly for the first time in a written submission Anne Hunt made to Horowhenua District Council on the council’s draft dangerous and insanitary buildings policy in May 2017.

Included with her submission was a copy of an email Mr Clapperton sent Mrs Hunt on February 3 which stated, “Please don’t pass on the comment that council cut the water off as this would be incorrect. Council undertook the action based on instruction from the chair of the Lake Trust.”

Can all residents who fall foul of third party agencies that have undue influence with the council therefore expect their water supply to be turned off “based on instruction”?

The council has been complicit in numerous attempts to remove Mr Taueki from his residence at the lake which are documented in detail in Anne Hunt’s recently released e-book “Man of Conviction.” (download free pdf at the link).

Mrs Hunt writes that in 2013 several men arrived to demolish his residence with crowbars and mallets and disconnected his power. Six or seven police officers arrived with the men and immediately arrested, handcuffed and transported Mr Taueki to Levin police station and charged him with assault for trying to stop his power being disconnected without proper authorisation. All his possessions and his two much loved dogs traumatised by this and other threatening behaviour, that have since died, were still inside the building.

Although he managed to have his power reconnected two days later his power box was smashed and an unsuccessful attempt was made to disconnect his water supply.

It wasn’t until six days after the building was left a shell of its former self that an application was made with, “Horowhenua District Council to decommission the buildings and disconnect the water. The council waived all fees and granted the consent.

“Phil also complained to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment about the way the Horowhenua District Council as a building consent authority handled this matter. Initially the Ministry expressed concern, but ultimately decided to take no action. The Tenancy Tribunal was equally dismissive,” Hunt says in her e-book.

When Mr Taueki attended a council meeting on the lake the former mayor, “Brendan Duffy refused to start the meeting until four police officers had arrived to escort Phil away in handcuffs. Phil was adamant he was not subject to any trespass order” which turned out to be true.

Levin police colluded with the council by lying on oath that a trespass notice had been served on Mr Taueki at a time when, “a whole team of councillors and candidates were erecting election hoardings in Levin, all prepared to testify that Phil was with us, hard at work digging holes in the stony ground,” said Hunt.

Doubts about the veracity of what Hunt, an author and journalist, says in the book will be reassured by the statement she makes at the start of the book, “If there are to be further battles in the courtroom, the author has taken the precaution of relying on legal privilege by reproducing copious extracts from court judgments, transcripts and evidence produced in court.”

Veronica Harrod is a qualified journalist with a Master of Communications specialising in traditional and new media content. Investigating and reporting on political, economic and legislative trends that negatively impact on the day to day lives of people is one of her main areas of interest. Lifestyle content she is interested in includes celebrating our own especially the tireless work community advocates do as civil citizens participating in democracy to keep those in power on their toes. In a media age dominated by a multi billion dollar communications and public relations industry paid to manipulate information to protect and advance the interests of the few over the many there have to be journalists who are impervious to the all pervasive influencial role they have over local and central government and corporate interests.

For more information on Veronica’s professional qualifications see her Facebook page.

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