Official ‘incompetence’ angers Maori landowners — KCDC denies any role in row
The Kapiti Coast District Council says it didn’t play any part in a row with Maori landowners over a sign promoting Otaki.
But the Otaki Community Board’s re-erection of the large sign promoting ‘ Sunny Otaki’ has turned into a stormy debacle with the Maori landowners.
The landowners allowed an official ‘Sunny Otaki’ sign to be sited on their property near SHI, at the northern entrance to Otaki, for many years — without payment. But now they’re fed up with officialdom, which they say has ruined the sight-lines of other — revenue-gathering — billboards.
KCDC Denies Any Role
Meanwhile, the territorial authority, the Kapiti Coast Council, denies any part in the saga.
Its PR Chief, Roger Foley, has told the Independent:” I have checked with our signage and compliance staff. We were not involved in the Otaki welcome sign or its placement. Given this, could you please amend your story and remove critical references to Council. I presume it is a Community Board sign.”
History of ‘Sunny Otaki’
For 30 years, the landowners allowed the town authorities to have a site for the sign for free. And recently, for small rentals, they agreed that More FM and three other businesses could also put up signs.
But now More FM is protesting that their sign is obscured by a replacement ‘Sunny Otaki’ sign, ‘plonked’ in front of it by the Otaki Community Board.
And the site’s Maori land owners are calling for the Community Board/ KCDC sign to come down because they were not told it was going up in the first place!
Otaki Community Board chair Don Moselen says (in a letter to the owner’s lawyer) that the Board made the decision to put up the new ‘Sunny Otaki’ sign at the request of members of the community’ who wanted it ‘refreshed’ for the Rugby World Cup.
Story Started 30 years ago
Well, this story actually goes back 30 years when the Otaki Promotions group (now no
longer operating) put up Sunny Otaki signs at both entrances to the town.
The landowners did not ask for payment and none was ever offered.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2011, and the owners are getting nominal amounts because other billboard owners –- like More FM — want a spot on the prime State Highway site.
Note that the sign featuring the Sunny Otaki emblem (and Rangiatea Church) is still there, but is falling down.
Trustee asks foe sign to come down
A spokesperson for the landowners, Tungia Kaihau says: ”In March,I decided to ask that the
sign come down because it was dilapidated and there was no benefit to
the legal owners.”
And the Kaihau family lawyer,Daryl Mclaren, wrote to the Kapiti Coast District
Council saying they had found no record of permission allowing the Sunny Otaki sign
to be on the site.
A sum of $350 as recompense for five years lease was requested; or, failing that,
the council was asked to remove the Sunny Otaki sign. The council were
asked to contact McLaren’s Law Office. Apparently this was not done.
Who at KCDC dealt with complaint?
This is where the KCDC does come into the story, despite their denials, because presumably someone at the KCDC dealt with this request.
Meanwhile, the original sign came down in September this year, but in its place a bigger sign — with steel struts and set in concrete – appeared.
Tungia Kaihau says she rang Otaki Board chair Don Moselen to object and Mr Moselen said the contractor was ‘on holiday’ and the matter would be dealt with when he returned. But still nothing happened.
Ms Kaihau says: “Even if we wanted to, it would be impossible to remove the sign without special equipment. “
Now, she says, one of the other sign owners (More FM)does not want to pay the annual fee and this is totally justified.
She concludes by saying there has been ‘ no transparency in the processes.’
And she says: “the absolute incompetence in handling this fiasco has turned a simple
transition into a debacle.”.