Local Iwi are furious the government failed to consult them before quietly recommending that Horowhenua should be exempt from new water pollution limits.
This could mean long-standing pollution problems at Lake Horowhenua are still not being dealt with.
A report by Rachel Thomas, of Radio New Zealand says the government claims it’s taking action on healthy waterways with new bottom lines for nitrogen.
But it wants to exclude Horowhenua and Pukekohe, two of the country’s best food-growing areas, from new water pollution limits.
Thomas says Iwi leaders from Horowhenua met the Environment Minister this week, following a letter to his office reminding the government of its Treaty obligations.
Sitting at point 107 of a Cabinet paper drafted in May is a recommendation that Lake Horowhenua and Pukekohe be exempt from new national limits on nitrogen toxicity — one of a raft of measures aimed at improving water quality.
But it was Monday before key iwi representative and the chair of the Ngātokowaru marae, Rachael Selby, found out about the plan through a third party.
Selby and other iwi leaders met with Parker on Tuesday this week after their letter last Friday stated the exemption was “grossly inequitable” and noted they were considering legal action.
‘No consultation with Ngati Raukawa’
She says: “There was no consultation with Ngāti Raukawa and we find that rather strange in the current environment. And I think particularly in an election year – to exempt our catchment area is just foolish.”
This ‘will entrench the degraded status of Lake’
“This exemption will entrench the degraded status of Lake Horowhenua catchment in a trade-off that weights economic outcomes above the cultural and environmental wellbeing of our community,” the letter read.
“Your determination occurred with no engagement with our iwi or hapū and is contrary to the Crown’s Te Tiriti obligations.”
(with thanks for content provided by a report from Rachel Thomas, of RNZ)
1865 paintng of Lake Horowhenua by John Barr Hoyte