Māori Rights Ignored Over Lake Horowhenua (Part 3)

Lake Horowhenua (photo by David White)

Concerns about how Lake Horowhenua’s many-tiered governance structure can continue to function without consultation with the Māori owners supports the argument for a new governance structure.

This was recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal in the MuaUpoko Priority Report.

KIN’s Horowhenua correspondent, Veronica Harrod reports:

The Waitangi Tribunal recommended that  ‘the Crown legislate as soon as possible for a contemporary Muaūpoko governance structure to act as kaitiaki for the lake, the Hōkio Stream, associated waters, and fisheries following negotiations with the Lake Horowhenua Trustees, the lake bed owners, and all of Muaūpoko as to the detail.’

“What we do note is that resource management issues, land use planning, and consenting for water and land discharges and takes within the catchment are important and go to the issue of whether the current governance regime adequately addresses the guarantees of the Treaty for Muaūpoko.”

The existing governance structure includes the Horowhenua District Council, regional council Horizons, the Conservation Department, Horowhenua Lake Domain Board (HLDB) and, formerly, the Lake Horowhenua Trust mandated to represent Maori owner interests.

Appointment of trustees quashed by Court

The Maori Appellate Court quashed the appointment of 11 trustees of Lake Horowhenua Trust after three judges said Judge Doogan had a conflict of interest in two court cases concerning Lake Horowhenua.

The Waitangi Tribunal report also says a new governance structure for Lake Horowhenua – one of the most polluted lake’s in the country – ‘would necessarily mean dismantling the current

Lake Horowhenua — already one of the ‘most polluted’ lakes in NZ

Horowhenua Lake Domain Board’ which the Crown continues to be involved in.

According to special provisions relating to Lake Horowhenua in the Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Act (ROLD), the Act governing the board, there should be four iwi representatives and there are only three. The ROLD Act recognises iwi board members – mandated to represent Maori lake owners -should have the majority of votes.

The ROLD Act also states, “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Reserves and Domains Act the board shall consist of the Director-General of Conservation, ex officio, who shall be chairman” but he is not.

Reg Kemper replaced Jenny Rowan after her resignation

Jenny Rowan, former KCDC Mayor

Reg Kemper has been domain board chair since he accepted former chair Jenny Rowan’s resignation after the Lake Horowhenua Trust passed a vote of no confidence in her. Three members of the former trust who voted in favour of the vote had to declare a conflict of interest because they are also domain board members.

Also the Reserves Act states board members cannot hold office for a term, “exceeding seven years” but the three wi representatives have served on the board for seven years and seven months.

Continuing problems supports the Waitangi Tribunal’s rejection of the Crown’s main argument that, “entities legally distinct from the Crown had various roles and impacts in relation to Lake Horowhenua and the Hokio Stream” as being a sufficient excuse to continue avoiding liability or culpability.

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