Police reject complaints in lake 'guardian' incident

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 28/01/2014

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A complaints standoff between Lake Horowhenua's "guardian" Philip Taueki and members of the Horowhenua Rowing club has been dismissed by police.

Mr Taueki made a complaint to police alleging assault by two members of the Horowhenua Rowing Club following an encounter on July 20 last year.

The club members in turn complained of intimidation, threatening behaviour and threatening language from Mr Taueki.

The dispute was one in a long history of caustic encounters between Mr Taueki and members of the rowing club.

After five months of deliberation, both complaints were dismissed following an investigation into the incident by Palmerston North area commander Inspector Pat Handcock.

In a letter to Mr Taueki, Mr Handcock described how Mr Taueki "remonstrated" with members of the rowing club following a perceived trespass on the day in question. Whether a trespass occurred was immaterial, he wrote.

Mr Taueki used "profane and obscene language" when challenging the rowers, and at one point, picked up a rowing skiff and oar.

He was then tackled by two members of the club and held down.

"It is reasonable from the evidence available that your actions caused alarm, and that those present believed (subjective view) that a member or members were about to be, or could be, assaulted," he wrote.

Mr Handcock went on to say that a rebuttal based on self defence was likely to succeed, should the matter proceed to court, and he would not be seeking a prosecution on any of the complaints.

Mr Taueki disputes Mr Handcock's version of the facts, saying he received injuries to his face, hands, knees and head as a result of being "jumped on" by the two members of the club who he says hit him on the back of the head.

The rowers had crossed the domain boundary, marked by a peg, and he moved the skiff and two oars back to the other side.

One of the rowers tried to "push him around", and he used "reasonable force" to try to get him off the land, after repeatedly asking them to leave.

Mr Handcock yesterday confirmed charges would not proceed on either side, and that there were "other matters" under consideration, but refused to provide details.

In his letter to Mr Taueki, Mr Handcock concluded: "I realise the historical and ongoing acrimonious relationships between the various parties will mean that this decision is not received well. "However, police are working with a number of the key personalities to try and find a sustainable outcome to these longstanding disputes that frequently occur."

Mr Taueki is back before the courts after an incident involving Horizons Regional Council and Niwa staff, who he alleges launched unwashed motorised boats into the lake earlier this month.

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He says he was arrested after refusing to move his vehicle, and was "manhandled" out of his car by a number of police. He was charged with obstruction and resisting police and will reappear in Levin District Court in February.

Mr Taueki could not be reached for comment yesterday.

- Manawatu Standard

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