Our Horowhenua correspondent Veronica Harrod says legal challenges to decisions made by the Lake (Horowhenua) Accord add weight to calls for a new governing body.
This was recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal in the 2017 MuaUpoko Priority Report.
The Lake Accord, brainchild of former Horowhenua District Council Mayor Brendan Duffy, was established in August 2013.
Members include Horowhenua District Council, Horizons Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Horowhenua Lake Domain Board and Lake Horowhenua
Two hearings have already been held by the Maori Land Court after Lake Horowhenua owners Philip Taueki and Charles Rudd said major earthworks and a walkway are being constructed at Lake Horowhenua without consultation with lake owners, as required, or resource consents.
The genesis of the walkway/cycleway was first mentioned in a personal submission made Mr Duffy in response to regional council Horizon’s proposed 2017-2018 Annual Plan.
He said Lake Horowhenua Trust, Lake Horowhenua Domain Board, the Department of Conservation, Horowhenua District Council and Horizon’s Regional Council, “All support this endeavour.”
HDC plan for 12k walkway and cycleway
Two months later Horowhenua District Council issued a press release stating the idea of a 12 kilometre walkway and cycleway around Lake Horowhenua followed, “a recent eight hour hikoi around the lake by a group of trustees and supporters.”
Former Lake Horowhenua Trust chair Matthew Sword was quoted saying the initiative has the support of all five signatory partners to the Lake Horowhenua Accord.
Yet when Mr Rudd sought information on what resource consents had been applied for or granted for the cycle/walkway Horizon’s group manager of strategy and regulation Nic Peet said on 29 June 2018, “In relation to resource consents then no resource consents have been applied for or granted by Horizons.”
Mr Peet also said, “in relation to the question of works in waahi tapu area I refer you to the Lake Trustees.”
Answers were also sought from Horowhenua District Council about whether resource consents had been obtained for earthworks constructing storm-water ponds at Lake Horowhenua at the same time.
Council’s chief executive David Clapperton said, “The Lake Horowhenua Trust would presumably know the answer to this.”
In answer to what agency would have authorised resource consents for the work Mr Clapperton said, “The Lake Horowhenua Trust would presumably know the answer to this.”
Former Lake Horowhenua Trust chair Matthew Sword refused to answer media questions when asked to comment.
This type behaviour by Lake Accord members means Maori owners of Lake Horowhenua have no recourse but to apply to the Maori Land Court to seek redress which is why, Mr Taueki says, the Crown needs to support the establishment of a new governance structure.