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.
“My messages as Mayor … are very very seldom what I write … they’re always doctored to be worded differently. I like to give out some news and I usually go for all of the positive stuff, but this one really irks me… the last one, I didn’t even write any of it in the last Community Connection, and this one here has got the Deputy Mayor’s name & as I said, I wanted … in my one … I wanted to put in the Maori Apellate Court judgement which relates to Lake Horowhenua Trust …”
If you are new to the goings on at Horowhenua District Council go to this link for our coverage. You could also search Veronica Harrod’s articles by using the search box in the right hand column of the News page or go to her public Facebook page. Veronica has provided excellent coverage on topic. (Our LG Govt Watch pages are in need of an update however there is important info there on the history nevertheless).
A small window of insight that mainstream media predictably has never mentioned is the public statement made by a former councilor Mrs Anne Hunt who divulged at the first Council meeting after the last LG elections (when Mayor Feyen’s choice of DM Cr Ross Campbell was unseated) that when she stood for Mayor in 2010 she was warned if she won ‘they’ would make her life hell. Media as I say, ignored this disturbing revelation, as did all those present that day. Nobody even challenged it as being untrue. You can read about that at this link. You will also see there Mayor Feyen’s revelations at that meeting, which mainstream also ignored:
“.… we simply weren’t accorded any democratic rights in the last three years. We had our access keys taken from us, we were dumped off committees with no explanation, people saw us constantly having derogatory comments thrown at us by the past mayor, we were always interrupted when we asked questions, when we asked questions in writing we seldom got an answer.
Certainly disturbing how mainstream in my opinion slants their reporting in favour of the majority there. And if you’ve been to any of HDC’s public meetings you will have noted that there is frequently only one other person in favour of the new Mayor’s initiatives. That is the unseated DM Cr Campbell. Subsequently a Mayor with the majority of public votes is not supported by a majority of Councilors. As was stated at the outset, the law is an ass. (In this case LG law if you will).
Learn more about the historic interactions between the Horowhenua District Council and Mr Taueki (whose supply has been cut) by reading former HDC Councilor Mrs Anne Hunt’s recent book titled ‘Man of Convictions’ (free download). Also go to this link to see a report by Marae TV and here for a recent article about Mr Taueki being charged for trespassing on his own land. You may also like to check out our Local Govt Watch pages at the main menu. Note Mr Taueki is frequently labeled ‘protester’ a word with clear overtones of dissidence … whereas, he is simply a man who is defending his own land. Since when was it a crime to defend one’s own property? EnvirowatchRangitikei
Protester Phil Taueki has lived in a nursery building beside Lake Horowhenua for 13 years.
His long-running protest at the lake received a boost in June from a Waitangi Tribunal finding that the property rights of his iwi, Muaūpoko, were usurped at the lake and that the Crown was complicit in degrading the lake to the point that it was among the most polluted in New Zealand.
The water was cut off last November, and Mr Taueki said his attempts to reconnect it since he returned there at Easter have failed.
“Where does that leave a person like me?” he said.
He has been getting his water from an outside tap and using a bucket to flush the toilet.
When he tried to get the water reconnected in August, he was trespassed from the council offices in Levin. He has previously had at least 30 charges against him withdrawn, dismissed or quashed on appeal.
A letter released to Mr Taueki this week under the Official Information Act shows the region’s medical officer of health, Dr Rob Weir, told Mr Clapperton in late August that the council was not allowed to create an unsanitary situation, no matter what the circumstances.
” … 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:
“… anyformalbusinessentityforprofitwhichmay 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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Here we have an article from the Manawatu Standard (under ‘opinion’) that is rare in its honesty, about the machinations of our environmental ‘protection’ agencies in drawing environmental protection groups into their fold. It’s called ‘collaboration’ but is not what it seems, as the article very honestly points out, titling the collaboration process ‘unmitigated bull faeces’. How refreshing to hear such truth. Our Councils and Horizons pay lip service to environmental protection, bandying around the Agenda 21 catchwords, ‘sustainable development’ and ‘smart growth’ all the while continuing on their ‘polluting for personal profit’ trajectory. If you want to see extreme water pollution, check out Lake Horowhenua, once the pristine food basket of local people Muaupoko, it’s been polluted for decades with human faeces, never mind bull faeces, although some of that goes in there as well. We’ve
also watched this recently with the leachate saga at the Bonny Glen landfill where the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ has allowed unknown amounts of toxic leachate, over and beyond the consent levels, into the Rangitikei waterways. And the powers that be continue to drag the chain with their hands firmly in the pockets of the landfill corporation. Equally farcical was the ‘independent’ consent hearing; it was held 45 minutes travel from those it affected most, and anybody who attended could see it was a done deal, the chair saying on one occasion ‘when the consents are granted’, a Freudian slip he quickly corrected. This has all been going on since the late ’80s and particularly since our country became a registered corporation owned by Queen Elizabeth II. Corporations require profits not clean environments, however they strategically put up a smokescreen that provides the illusion they want to protect the environment, pretending to collaborate, as this article from the Manawatu Standard points out, particularly in the fact that one of the collaborators has resigned … “Fish & Game’s chief executive Bryce Johnson said changes to the forum’s rules around membership and restrictions on the ability to speak out had “essentially compelled us to resign”… ” read more
“The Waitangi Tribunal has spent the past week hearing Muaūpoko iwi members claims to Lake Horowhenua and surrounding lands. It is the first hearing round of three set out for the Porirua ki Manawatu district inquiry.
Muaūpoko descendant Phil Taueki has has made it his mission to return Lake Horowhenua to Māori hands.
He is one of the claimants who finally got the chance to stand up and let the tribunal, and the Crown, know what he has spent years fighting for.
The first thing he wants to stop is Horowhenua District Council pumping storm water from Levin into the lake.
“The second thing that needs to happen is the Levin Wastewater Treatment Plant needs to be relocated, because it periodically discharges and seeps raw sewerage into the lake.”
He said about 5 million cubic centimetres of toxic sediment was in the lake and urgently needed to be removed.
“That’s laying on the bottom of the lake, on top of our ancestors, and it needs to be removed as quickly as possible.”
“The Waitangi Tribunal was told to imagine being stuck waste deep in a long drop to understand the conditions that Muaupoko iwi ancestors are in at Lake Horowhenua.
The 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.
On Monday Judge Caren Fox said it would be one of the most profound hearings in the district….
At the second morning of the hearing, Phil Taueki staked his claim for his whanau to be included in the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Muaupoko Tribal Authority. He also raised a series of issues relating to the pollution of Lake Horowhenua…Taueki estimated hundreds of millions of dollars would be required to clean the lake.
“In his submission, Taueki claimed contaminants from the Levin landfill and wastewater treatment plant were pooled at the Hokio Beach area which then seeped out to the beach.
He said “clouds of brown sewage” were visible in the ocean.
“Because of the tides, all that sewage washes down the coast to Kapiti.”
Taueki said his whanau had always had a presence in the area, compared to other tribes.
“There was one whanau that never left, that was the Taueki whanau… The report by the Crown barely mentions Taueki, which shows how much weight you should put on their research… no-one is going to move me from my land at the lake.”
A reminder to us all, long term pollution like this eventually catches up with us. Somewhere down the line, the lack of addressing these issues along the way, culminates in crisis. As long as profits take precedence over people and environments this kind of scenario is going to continue. With the TPPA signed now, we can now, unfortunately, look forward to more of this.
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.”
Returning here to the story of the pollution of our supposedly ‘clean green’ waterways, the centennial commemoration of the landing at Gallipoli, and Muaupoko’s once pristine lake that Lord General Freyberg trained in. Freyberg is known to younger New Zealanders as a General who served in WWII. He earned his VC (Victoria Cross) however in WW1 as an expert swimmer. My father was his driver for four years during WW2. To read Part 1 go HERE.
Lake Horowhenua (continued)
In the case of the Muaupoko people, their lake that historically they’d generously shared with the locals for recreation, was also a sacred site, being the resting place for many of their ancestors. The Councils of the day that agreed to its pollution would have known that the owners also relied on it for their food and income. They’d had to wade out amidst human feces and toilet paper to their eel weirs (traps or nets). Other food sources within the lake would also become so inedible, many of the people eventually moved away. The fouling of food sources like this is tantamount to emptying a septic tank straight onto your neighbour’s vegetable garden. Not ending there however, the lake’s pollution has continued unabated and is now one of the most polluted in the country. Even today apparently, sewage is released whenever a nearby pumping station is overloaded, and it’s been said from testing of the water that a small glass-full has the potential to kill an animal or even a small child.
The cited $2.886 million to clean up the sheer negligence of previous generations has become it appears, the new norm. Horizons Regional Council is tasked with ‘maintaining and enhancing our Region’s land, water, air, coast and habitat protection.’ The operative and strategic word here is ‘enhancing’. A fairly all- encompassing term that doesn’t tie the Council to too much in the way of specifics. This practice is borne out in other regions as well. When I began to research the cleanliness of our waterways in this ‘clean green’ land … I began to notice that although there is a standard of acceptance set, it’s not always strictly enforced as was evident in the case of the discharge of leachate into our Rangitikei waterways for nine years. In spite of efforts in 2011 by local residents to bring this into the light of day via the Community Committee, council ignored their cries and the pollution still continues. (Documented on this site). In recent discussions with our Mayor Andy Watson about this pollution, he put it into ‘perspective’ by citing the fact that it is not out of the ordinary and other Rangitikei treatment plants are also non compliant. A bit like our kids do when they argue ‘everybody else is doing it’. We have here an informal agreement that financially benefits the offshore corporation, Midwest Disposals, while severely polluting our waterways … with promises for clean up that never quite materialize. Councils are well versed in rhetoric like, ‘it will take time’, ‘it could take months’ and more recently, in the case of the Rangitikei, ‘we’re chipping away at it’ … dragging the chain as it were, to forestall any definite action.
Add to this Lake Horowhenua’s damning history and the fact that the nearby Manawatu River is one of the most polluted in the Southern Hemisphere … plus the numerous other tales of pollution NZ-wide, and you will see a familiar pattern emerging. We are touted in the international advertising spin as being ‘clean and green’, yet in the cold light of day our environment is being severely trashed. Ironically the rhetoric on the associated council and environmental websites all point to the need for sustainable practices (UN Agenda 21 plan) and yet the powers that be fail to live up to them. Double speak and hypocrisy at it’s worst. The mentality our governing authorities have that we can simply pay all this damage forward to future generations, whilst corporate business interests continue to profit and/or save money now will not only be the death of our planet but the death of us as well. As it’s been said by an astute observer, ‘there can be no economy on a dead planet’.
The ANZAC Service
Returning to the ANZAC Day service, it turned out to be one of the nicest ANZAC services we’d ever attended. The people there were warmly welcoming and so interested in our piece of history that they invited us to share. We accepted of course and were touched that this trio of old soldiers who have now passed on, were honoured with a waiata (a song). We felt right at home and were welcomed afterwards to a beautiful spread of kai and a cuppa, with lovingly prepared, locally cooked eel, sandwiches and cream sponges to name a few items on the menu. I’m sure the General himself would have been suitably impressed, and I know my dear Dad would’ve been proud as. Over our cuppa, we also learned something of the history of the lake, its owners who had welcomed us, and their long and ongoing struggle with local council to not only retain it, but to keep it clean, an all too familiar David and Goliath tale in our histories. My father himself had shares in Whanganui tribal lands that he never understood. Confiscated I believe by Te Kooti Tango Whenua (the Land Taking Court).
Before closing, a word on war. Although we honour our forbears every ANZAC, we need to remember that these loved ones who truly did sacrifice their lives, were pawns in a much larger scheme of events. My father, who went off to WW II with his four brothers at the tender age of 17, said in his latter years that wars would never end because ‘wars make money’. Great Britain, and the royal family both deal in the arms trade and the Queen is the current owner of one sixth of the planet. (Note well, her royal predecessors did not acquire it by entirely peaceful negotiations). She has our nation registered on the SEC website as her corporation … we are a registered company which explains the absence of true care for our environment. Corporations are, above all, about profits.
So, as always, we need to follow the familiar money trail. Those who read beyond the official histories (who know that ‘Maori Wars’ and ‘Indian Wars’ were actually ‘Land Wars’) will also be aware of the role of the Rothschild family in fomenting and profiteering from wars for hundreds of years, boasting even of funding both sides. The death toll from WWII was over 50 million lives.
“I care not what puppet is placed upon the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire, and I control the British money supply”…Nathan Mayer Rothschild
Our loved ones were simply pawns.
“If my sons did not want wars, there would be none”… Mrs Rothschild
Nevertheless we honour the fact that our loved ones went honourably and served their beloved countries and peoples. These other people, the profiteers, have blood on their hands that one day, I believe, they will have to answer for.
Here is a story of pollution at its worst. ANZAC, unexpectedly this year (2015) became the avenue of discovery and the event that prompted me to write this post. A note first to non-Kiwis/Aussies, ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps … every 25th of April, we commemorate our brave soldiers … our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, who both risked and sacrificed their lives in the two World Wars.
I hadn’t intended going to an ANZAC service and haven’t done since my father passed away in 2007. It brings back my deep sadness at losing him. An ad however, in the Horowhenua Chronicle, was brought to my attention by a family member about a special service to be held at Lake Horowhenua, Levin, honouring Lord General Freyberg for the centenary of the Gallipoli landing. My father had been his driver for four years during WWII, and Lake Horowhenua was one of the venues Freyberg had trained at in NZ as a young swimmer. His swimming would later earn him the VC (Victoria Cross) in WWI. The Horowhenua Chronicle read:
” Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg was a dentist in Levin before World War I; by the end of the war he was a decorated hero and recipient of the Victoria Cross. He earned the first of his four Distinguished Service Order medals for a swim he undertook on the morning of the invasion of Gallipoli on April 25, 1915. In darkness, Freyberg had towed to shore a raft of flares to light as decoys before undertaking unarmed and alone a reconnaissance of the large army entrenched nearby.”
This ANZAC service was being organized by Phil Taueki (Muaupoko iwi) one of Lake Horowhenua’s owners and kaitiaki or guardian of the lake. The original commemorative plans would have seen swimmers crossing the lake however, those plans were dropped. You will see why shortly.
We had no idea Freyberg had trained in Lake Horowhenua, or even that he had lived so close to our home town, only fifty or so minutes drive away. We decided to go to the service and take along with us the group photo my father treasured of the General, the General’s batman (also my father’s good friend) Laurie Keucke and himself, taken en route from Arrezzo, Rome, when they’d stopped for a ‘brew up’ and refreshments .
Lord General Freyberg
“… although it could be frightening being on the road and always vulnerable to attack, nevertheless the General was always without fear … ” L. Sgt. James Vernon (Driver)
My father remembered Freyberg as a fearless man who already had 18 wounds at that time. His driver from El Alamein to Monte Cassino to Rimini, he said that although it could be frightening being on the road and always vulnerable to attack, nevertheless the General was always without fear.
Freyberg apparently had a sense of humour too behind his fearsome exterior and knew the boys called him ‘Tiny’. Because his parents had emigrated from the UK to NZ when he was just a small child, he would undoubtedly have experienced the Kiwi culture and its characteristic sense of humour growing up. For example, when staff who didn’t like the fact that Kiwi soldiers didn’t always salute them, he’d suggested they try waving instead!
“… they wouldn’t get away with that in the British Army … ” (General Freyberg)
The New Zealand guys always gave him a bit of stick too my father said. Knowing of his swimming expertise, when Freyberg and his men were getting ready to cross the Sangro River during the Italian campaign, someone called out, “Hey Freyberg, you gonna swim across?”. This was met with a tight lipped, “they wouldn’t get away with that in the British Army”, and as always with this kind of comment, a gleam in his eye.
The kind of man the Freyberg was is evident too in his posing for the group photograph. Generals wouldn’t normally be photographed I’ve been told, with that level of staff . After WW II when Freyberg visited Dad’s home town Whanganui, he’d broken rank and hugged my father when he spotted him in the parade … exclaiming how he always remembered the wonderful breakfasts he’d cooked him in the desert. I always remember him as an excellent cook. After Freyberg’s appointment as Governor General of NZ after the war in 1946 my father and other of Freyberg’s staff I’ve heard, would call on him for a cup of tea at his home in Wellington, and every year, there would always be a Christmas card from Government House.
Returning to Lake Horowhenua, it turns out that the pristine lake the young dentist had trained in all those decades ago, had since been transformed from a valuable source of income and kai (food) for Muaupoko … into a literal toilet bowl. Raw sewage had been pumped into it for two decades starting in the 1950s, and although it ceased in the 1980s, the lake has continued to be polluted to this day by effluent from both surrounding dairy farming and from local agricultural activity. The price tag to clean up the pollution and realize the dream of having swimmers cross the lake on the day was estimated by Horizons to be $2.886 million.
This story is all too familiar. Here in the Rangitikei we have our own pollution scenario, where locals have complained that the extension to Bonny Glen landfill to now nearly quintuple its size, will turn our ‘unspoilt’ district into the toilet bowl rather than the ‘grain bowl’ of the lower North Island. ‘Unspoilt’ is the featured word on our official district logo. This is clearly not true.
“Two-thirds of more than 160 monitored river swimming spots in New Zealand have been deemed unsafe for a dip” NZ Herald 30/1/2015
Read Part 2 of this post with more on the events that transpired that ANZAC Day.