A Foxton tangata whenua representative, William McGregor, and other locals have organized a peaceful sit in at the town’s cenotaph. There is a lot of history behind this part of town which was the original Te Awahou settlement (Te Awahou is Foxton’s real name) . The local Horowhenua District Council has plans to move the cenotaph and do up the main street at the obscene cost of $1.6 million.
The people want the cenotaph to remain where it is. Council, in keeping with their plans, held a last minute blessing of the area last week in readiness for the moving day. This demonstrates the extent of their commitment to consultation. At that ceremony those officiating with regard to the blessing diplomatically acknowledged it was out of respect for those fallen in the wars and those buried there that they came.
The Council is already in debt to the tune of $100+ million, according to two councilors, however Mayor Brendan Duffy claims the debt is only $68 million. Either figure, it is still too much and some wise spending is in order.
What the local people really want is clean water, however the Council claims the water if fine and the Mayor says on FB that he drinks it. It is in fact regularly a brown colour and is highly infused with chlorine, a known carcinogen. Chlorine of course is the sticking plaster for pollution that most DCs don’t want to spend money on cleaning up. Witness the fact we can no longer swim in 40% of our ‘clean green’ rivers. The Horowhenua also has an horrific track record of disposing of its waste into the local waterways.
That aside, the point is, nobody (except a few shop owners apparently) wants the street to be narrowed with gardens replacing many parking spaces. Nevertheless, Council has already had contractors demolish the old Council building, old records and all. Antique books have been left lying in the rain where they fell.
So, the beef that locals have with the council is that people weren’t consulted. It’s said RSA was, however it turns out dozens of RSA members who’ve dropped by the protest claim they were not asked. They’ve also added photographs of the fallen soldiers onto the base of the cenotaph. I think Council are in for a rough ride and this is the price they pay for not consulting with the people they’re supposed to be working for.
A tent has been erected next to Ihakara Gardens for the protesters to stay in, and gifts of food and supplies have been pouring in from the public, including local businesses. They’re in for the long hall.
For as long as I’ve been following the lack of consultation issue over the street changes, our local representative in Council, Cr Michael Feyen, has said repeatedly he’s been left out of the consultation loop and in spite of requests has not been shown any plans for the street. Yesterday however, the HDC issued a press release replete with plans and history, and also denying the claims they’ve not consulted locals. The sit in organizers claim the details in the press release are simply not true. They are the tangata whenua and they know if they’ve been consulted or not. They haven’t. For further information on that visit Cr Michael Feyen’s FB page.
Although HDC’s website claims partnership & consultation with local iwi, it appears to be just lip service. This became evident with the Shannon waterways pollution & what ensued there. Little if any respect for tangata whenua.
Radio NZ has published an article on this … you can read it at this link.
The latest news from Cr Feyen’s FB page at 5pm today is, Mayor Duffy and CEO Clapperton are at the site in discussions with the organizers. However, note, Foxton’s own District Councilor, their own representative, is not privy to that discussion. Not allowed.
So much for democracy & consultation. I rest my case.