“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)
Shannon, where Mr Andrews lives, lies within the jurisdiction of the Horowhenua District Council.
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:
(g) the protection of protected customary rights…” (SOURCE: RMA)
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 and cultural 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:
“… any formal business entity for profit which may be a corporation, a partnership, association or individual proprietorship…” SOURCE
So we need to be asking ourselves, to whom do our Councils (that are really companies) owe their allegiance? To you the ratepayer/citizen? Or to corporate/company interests, given they exist ‘for profit’?
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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