Hone hit with horse ride ban
Nelson vagrant Lewis Stanton has been banned from giving horse and cart rides at Tahunanui Reserve without a permit, a decision he says will see him spending more time in the central city.
Judge Tony Zohrab yesterday granted the Nelson City Council a permanent injunction which prevents Mr Stanton, also known as Hone Ma Heke, from offering rides at the public reserve in exchange for koha or donations.
Judge Zohrab determined that Mr Stanton was essentially operating a business on council land without council permission, which he would have to apply for if he wished to continue.
Judge Zohrab said Mr Stanton was entitled to live in his own style, but not to the extent that it impinged on the lifestyles of others.
He said the injunction was a matter of balancing Mr Stanton's individual rights against the collective right of the public to freely enjoy recreational spaces, and against the rights of people who had legitimately applied to run a business at the beachside reserve.
Lawyer for the council, Julian Ironside, submitted that Mr Stanton gave people horse and cart rides in exchange for cash donations or koha, which amounted to a commercial service, as defined by the bylaw that regulates trading in council-controlled public spaces.
Defence lawyer Jessica Heard argued that Mr Stanton was the "antithesis" of a commercial operator. Because people were not obliged to pay him, this distinguished him from other commercial services, she said.
She submitted that it was a lifestyle choice for Mr Stanton to rely on donations for his survival, and that taking people for rides was simply part of that lifestyle.
"His world view is about harmonious co-operation rather than commercial exchange for profit.
"He does not undertake what he undertakes for profit, but in accordance with the lifestyle he leads."
It was accepted by both parties that between October and December last year, Mr Stanton took numerous people for rides, and sometimes accepted donations or koha, but not always.
Mr Stanton admitted targeting the reserve, as well as the central city, because those sites had the highest volume of foot traffic.
Though he did not ask for money, he did display a donation "bucket" that invited people to make a contribution to his lifestyle.
Mr Stanton recorded the money he received during that period, which totalled $1644, but denied that this was "revenue" in a commercial sense.
During cross-examination by Mr Ironside, Mr Stanton said he needed that money, and other donations, in order to survive and to care for his horse, Barney.
"Basically, I live simply, by human goodwill," he said.
"I am simply a lifestyle. That's exactly why I live the way I do, to get away from all that [commercial] stuff.
"I have chosen to live an alternative lifestyle and council don't want me to do that. It's that clear, plain and simple.
"What sort of society are we creating because we have to rely on everything having a monetary value? There are a lot of other values in society that many of us don't recognise now, because of the mighty dollar."
Judge Zohrab ruled that by refusing to apply for a commercial operating licence, Mr Stanton had breached a council regulation that all other citizens were obliged to follow.
He said the council had offered Mr Stanton an opportunity to get a permit as per the regulation, but he refused.
Mr Stanton said he had never intended to apply for a permit, which costs $35, because he was not a business and never would be.
"He expects to be treated differently. This is simply the council treating Mr Stanton like any other citizen," Judge Zohrab said.
Outside the courthouse, Mr Stanton said the decision meant he would be "stuck here in Nelson, which is going to upset a few more of those shop owners and others".
"I'll be stuck around town for a little bit longer - I hope it puts a smile on some people's faces."
On Wednesday, Mr Stanton featured on TVNZ current affairs show Seven Sharp, which he said had exposed the "bigotry" of some Nelsonians. "Nelson can be quite a redneck town."
He said he wanted to eventually return to Motueka.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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