Veronica Harrod reports the Manawatu Wanganui Regional Council has refused to act against the private owner of Lake Rakau Hamana who allowed an illegal channel to be dug, which
caused major flooding to a block of coastal land owned by Hokio A Trust.
Regional Council strategy and regulations group manager Nic Peet told Hokio A trustee Vivienne Taueki that, “the regional council cannot legally seek a further enforcement order given the judge’s decision.”
Mr Peet was referring to charges the Regional Council laid under the Resource Management Act (RMA) against a worker, Fyfe Williamson, who was found guilty in Levin District Court on 13 May for cutting an illegal drainage channel and building a temporary dam of sand without a resource consent causing significant damage to wildlife and fauna.
Regional Council took a month to act!
During the Court case, it was revealed the Regional Council took a month to respond to a report made by Hokio A Trust chair Philip Taueki about the problem.
You can watch a short video to see the extent of the flooding and how a PVC pipe directs a channel of water directly onto land privately owned by Hokio A Trust.
Ms Taueki says if the Regional Council had contacted the Trust to discuss the matter or responded to requests by Mr Taueki for further information there could have been an opportunity to participate in a restorative justice process.
Restorative justice system ignored
A voluntary restorative justice process has been used in numerous RMA cases around the country because it allows the victims, as people adversely affected by the offending, an opportunity to ask questions and say how the offending affects them [source: Some-Thoughts-on-RMA-Prosecutions-Butterworths-Resource-Management-Bulletin-2007].
An edited version of the paper presented by former Judge FWM McElrea at an Environment Court Judges’ Conference in August 2007, and published in well-respected legal journal LexisNexis NZ, says a voluntary restorative justice process is also an opportunity for the offender to offer a personal apology and participate in a way to move forward.
Claim re ‘liaison’ rejected
“This is a process the Hokio A Trust as a directly affected party would have liked an opportunity to take part in,” said Ms Taueki.
Mr Peet claimed the Regional Council had, “liaised” with Mr Taueki when the drainage occurred and said, “we understood that there were no concerns about the outlet for the lake.”
But Ms Taueki says: “Philip absolutely refutes the claim that he gave any approval for the continuation of the discharge onto land owned by Hokio A Trust.”
She also says the minutes of Trust meetings confirm (a) the Hokio trustees did not give consent (b) wanted the illegal and unlawful discharge to cease immediately (c) for Mr Williamson to reinstate the land back to how it was previously and (d) repair any other damages that were caused as a result of the discharge.
The video link is https://youtu.be/nBmwK2Uq5ZQ