Clean up of lake limited to 5 groups

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 12/12/2012

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Regional councillors have called for more groups to be allowed into an accord aimed at cleaning up Lake Horowhenua.

However, Horowhenua District Mayor Brendan Duffy has deflected their calls, maintaining the five groups involved are the right ones at this stage.

At a meeting of the Horizons Regional Council strategy and policy committee yesterday councillors agreed to sign a letter of intent next week to set up a Lake Horowhenua Accord.

But they also passed a motion that supported more groups being invited to take part in the accord. At present five organisations are involved: Horizons, Horowhenua District Council, the Department of Conservation, the Lake Domain Board and Horowhenua Lake Trustees.

Horowhenua Residents and Ratepayers Association spokesman Bryan Ten Have said his group wanted to take part as did Christina Paton of environmental group the Water & Environmental Care Association and lake advocate Philip Taueki.

Mr Ten Have said he did not trust the five groups taking part in the accord to get it right without ratepayers having a voice at the table.

"[These groups] have been involved in the health of Lake Horowhenua since Adam was a boy, basically, and the lake health has gone backwards.

"There needs to be new ideas, new blood, somebody completely neutral to take a new direction for our lake."

Mr Taueki, one of about 2000 Muaupoko owners of the lake, said for progress to be made Levin's stormwater had to stop flowing into the lake and the neighbouring wastewater treatment plant had to move.

"Come hell or high water I'm going to clean that lake up, it's my duty. It's disgusting to have our lake, our most precious taonga in our possession, used as the town's toilet."

Involving the iwi-elected lake trustees or the domain board, which has iwi members, was not the same as involving Muaupoko directly, he said.

"You've got one major party missing from the accord and that's the tribe that used to be reliant on the lake for its fishing."

Mr Duffy, who has led the creation of the accord, said the five groups involved were the right ones as they had responsibility for the lake and the power to make decisions over its management.

"It is very clear to me that there are only five influencers of the lake," he told the meeting.

"There are not other people who can go down to that lake and do anything on it without the consent of one of those five groups."

The lake trustees were recognised by the Maori Land Court as being elected representatives of the lake's Maori owners, he said. Mr Taueki walked out of the meeting at this statement, though he later returned.

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Two years ago Horizons embarked on a similar process, establishing the Manawatu River Leaders' Accord in response to widespread concern over the health of the Manawatu River.

Cr Murray Guy said the Manawatu River Leaders' Accord had been successful, with more than 30 signatories, yet such a limited number of signatories were being sought for Lake Horowhenua.

Mr Duffy said the nature of the lake was very different, with private ownership issues involved.

Horizons chief executive Michael McCartney said: "We have to remember that we are not leading this. We also need to remind those involved of our regulatory responsibility and our membership should not compromise that role."

- The Manawatu Standard

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