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.
Our reporter Karley Hemopo heads to Lake Horowhenua to put a spotlight on property rights in a long standing dispute — so why is Māori freehold land being treated like Public land in the eyes of local authorities? In the meantime the lake is in the top 10 polluted lakes list in NZ so what is being done to address or reverse the significant pollution in the lake?
Lake Horowhenua Trespass Prosecution “Disturbingly Medieval” Says Maori Owner
Friday, 31 March 2017, 10:19 am Press Release: Phil Taueki
In New Zealand, this week’s Court of Appeal decision quashing the acquittal of an owner charged with trespassing on his own land is disturbingly medieval, according to the owner who will now be retried for the same offence thrown out by a district court judge last May.
Phil Taueki says he is not joking when he cites Magna Carta harking back to ancient times when the Crown could seize control of ancestral lands and imprison owners who refused to leave. Magna Carta became NZ law in 1989.
He says the original police prosecutor admitted there was no case to answer but he was under political pressure to proceed with this prosecution.
When this charge was dismissed, that should have been the end of it, he says.
But Crown Law appealed his acquittal even though there was no compelling new evidence or suggestion of a tainted acquittal.
It is disconcerting that Crown Law has hijacked this criminal case to evict owners from their own property, he says.
“There is even a statue of the man who stole our land in the grounds of Parliament”, Mr Taueki says.
“Anybody else who claimed there was an agreement would be laughed out of court if they could not produce a copy of that agreement,” he says. “But not Crown Law”.
Nevertheless in the High Court, Justice Ellis accepted there was an agreement and therefore the public had more rights than the owners on their own land.
Lake Horowhenua and the surrounding ancestral land has belonged to Mr Taueki and other members of his iwi since a certificate of title was issued in 1899.
Despite private ownership, within a few years Parliament had passed a law letting the public use the lake free of charge and placing it under the control of a Domain Board appointed by the Minister of Conservation.
In 1906, MP Tame Parata had called for the repeal of legislation passed without the approval of the owners.
Prior to Mr Taueki’s arrest, this Board banned all owners from entering their own buildings so that members of the local rowing club could occupy buildings the Board neither owns nor leases.
The Minister for Maori Development conceded two years ago that these arrangements would not be put in place today.
However Parliament has shown no inclination to repeal legislation that Mr Taueki describes as ‘theft by statute’.
“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.
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