Retrial this week of Philip Dean Taueki for trespassing on his own land
By Veronica Harrod
Lake Horowhenua beneficial owner Philip Dean Taueki faces retrial for trespass in Levin District Court this Thursday (September 21) despite having been acquitted of two previous charges of trespass.
Even though Taueki lives on Maori freehold land beside the lake, and is one of the legally recognised owners of Lake Horowhenua, his repeated arrests, trials, and even imprisonment on trespass charges eloquently symbolises contemporary methods the Crown and its agencies use to maintain and assert control over Lake Horowhenua.
The litany of criminal charges that have been brought against Taueki since 2011 provided by his advocate Anne Hunt includes forty two charges laid by police and of those 16 charges were dismissed, 13 were withdrawn and four were quashed.
Man of convictions
In her recently released book Man of Convictions [available at www.annehunt.co.nz] Hunt says, “Lake Horowhenua and the surrounding area is ancestral land that has belonged to the Mua-Upoko iwi since a certificate of title was issued in 1899. Mr Taueki is an owner and direct descendant of Taueki who signed the Treaty of Waitangi as the Rangatira of Mua-upoko.”
The first trespass charge was dismissed by Judge Dawson on 11 August 2011 in Levin District Court on the grounds that, “The trespass notice served on Mr Taueki was issued without the clear unequivocal authority of the Horowhenua 11 Lake Reservation Trust and is therefore invalid. As the trespass notice is invalid, the charge of trespass is dismissed.” [source: Man of Convictions]
The Horowhenua 11 Lake Reservation Trust, called Lake Horowhenua Trust, was established in 1951 by the Maori Land Court in recognition of the beneficial owners of the lake and trustees are appointed to act on behalf of the beneficial owners.
One year later on 19 August 2012 Levin police once again tried to trespass Taueki from his own land. “I provided proof that Phil was standing on his own land. They eventually left, for once without Phil handcuffed in the back of their car,” says Hunt.
Another trespass charge dismissed
In May 2016 Judge Moss dismissed another trespass charge on the grounds, “the foundation of the prosecution is fatally flawed….Creation of a trespass notice requires a number of elements. The first is proof of occupation. The second is proof of authority to act as a representative where the occupier is a corporate body. The third is proof of a delegation to sign the trespass notice.”
Judge Moss took what she herself described as “an unusual step” to acquit Taueki of the charge after Lake Domain Board chairman Alan McKenzie was unable to produce the resolution the domain board passed to trespass Taueki. He also testified the board was not the ‘occupier’ of the building.
Nevertheless on 16 December last year Justice Ellis quashed the second acquittal in an appeal hearing at Wellington High Court and ordered Taueki to be retried in Levin District Court despite the fact he had already been aquitted of trespass not once but twice.
Hunt believes the Crown is under political pressure to proceed with the retrial and she states as proof the promotion of Justice Brown to the Court of Appeal “in the same month he granted Crown Law leave to appeal Mr Taueki’s acquittal.” Justice Brown gave leave for the Crown to proceed with the appeal and Justice Ellis granted the appeal.
33 High Court judges appointed by Finlayson
Hunt also says Justice Ellis is one of 33 High Court judges appointed by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson and, prior to her appointment, she had twice worked for Crown Law. Crown Law is the state agency that appealed the aquittal of Taueki on the trespass charge.
Hunt says since Chris Finlayson was appointed Attorney General in 2008 he has promoted five of the six judges to the Supreme Court, all 10 of the Court of Appeal judges and appointed 75% of the judges in the High Court.
When asked how else the process of appointing judges should proceed if not by appointment by the Attorney-General she said, “The appointment process followed by the Attorney-General is not prescribed by any statute or regulation. Furthermore, this process is secret.”
Waitangi Tribunal report on the lake
Whether there has been political inteference in ensuring Taueki is repeatedly arrested and charged by the police the Waitangi Tribunal document ‘Horowhenua, The Muaupoko Priority Report’ makes clear that historically the Crown and its agencies continue to have a vested interest in maintaining control over Lake Horowhenua and this has resulted in denying lake owners’ not only control over their own asset and taonga but, essentially, control over their own destiny.
What is a statement of fact is that Philip Taueki has been targeted by agencies of the Crown, in particular the police and local authorities, for his continued actions to prevent the pollution of Lake Horowhenua by his assertion of lake owners’ interests and this has been viewed as a threat to the vested interests of central and local government agencies.
Historically Lake Horowhenua is viewed fundamentally as a European recreational asset and environmentally Crown and local government agencies continue to pollute the lake with waste from Levin and the surrounding areas through stormwater pipes and seepage from the sewage treatment plant (STP) from heavy rains and flooding occuring as late as 2008. The STP is sited very close to the lake which is why Taueki refers to the lake being used as “Levin’s toilet bowl” in the Waitangi Tribunal report.
Pollution likely to worsen
Pollution is only likely to get worse rather than better with plans by council to allow greater housing density and an exponential increase in land development already occurring in Levin placing pressure on an already inadequate STP.
Although a Lake Horowhenua Accord was signed in 2013 to rehabilitate and protect the health of the lake it is made up of the very organisations that have been historically responsible for the pollution and mismanagement of Lake Horowhenua including Horizons Regional Council, Horowhenua District Council, Horowhenua Lake Domain Board and the Department of Conservation.
Lake Horowhenua Trust is also part of the accord but a submission by Hunt included in the May 2017 Horowhenua District Council hearings committee agenda raises serious questions about the ability of trustees to act on behalf of the beneficial owners.
Anne Hunt’s claims
In her submission to the hearings committee in response to a review of council’s draft dangerous and insanitary buildings policy, she says the water was disconnected to “a building” [Taueki’s home residence] at the lake “even though the Local Government Act expressly forbids that action.”
She included as evidence with her submission an email council’s chief executive David Clapperton sent to her on February 3 this year stating, “Please don’t pass on the comment that council cut the water off as this would be incorrect. Council undertook the action based on instruction from the chair of the Lake Trust.”
Lake Horowhenua Trust chairperson is Matthew Sword. He is also chairperson of the Lake Accord.
Despite the high personal price Taueki has paid it is primarily due to his actions that local rowing and sailing clubrooms illegally erected on Maori freehold land without permission from the lake owners were finally ejected after fifty years amidst much anomosity and violence including, says Hunt in her book, “bullets were fired into the heavy-gauge roller doors near where we [Taueki and Hunt] stood, one of them penetrating the building. The police did investigate, but in a perfunctory way. Nothing more came of it.”
Taueki’s mother, who has since passed, asked her son to return from London where he worked for a prestigious accountancy firm due to her heartfelt concerns about the on-going pollution of the lake.
As one wise person stated, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” which is why some say what is really on trial in Levin District on September 21 this year is control over Lake Horowhenua.
Will a Court of Law decide to repeat history by favouring the vested interests of the Crown and its agencies or make history by declaring a precedent setting judgement in favour of a rightful and legal owner of Lake Horowhenua who has already been acquitted twice on a charge of trespass?