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Victims of Council’s Management Practices Around Pollution

Ratepayers And Mana Whenua Victims of Council’s Management Practices Around Pollution
Joint Press Release: Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers and Mana Whenua
17 May 2018
Only three elected representatives on Rotorua District Council responded to the RDRR's request that they negotiate an end to their criminal prosecution by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council for polluting streams below the landfill. Potential penalties and legal costs on both sides could total up to $4 million, all at ratepayers’ expense. Prosecution might lead to more appropriate investment in infrastructure, but will it clarify bungled accountabilities around outsourcing and fix strained relationships with the BOPRC and key stakeholders? Mana whenua and ratepayers have become victims of questionable management practices in the RDC.

“Mana whenua have been campaigning since 2010 to stop the RDC polluting our streams that run past three marae, Te Puia, Whakarewarewa and Ngapuna, into Lake Rotorua,” said Wally Lee (Tūhourangi/ Ngāti Wāhiao/ Ngāti Whakaue). “We complained again in 2016 when the Waihuahuakakahi Stream was contaminated from the old green waste area. In 2017, two cyclones flushed leachate into the Tureporepo Stream which triggered the BOPRC’s prosecution.”

Mr Lee initially supported RDRR’s attempt to persuade the RDC not to go to court, to plead guilty to the pollution charges, offer a fresh policy process to hear their solution and to commit to remedial strategies with the BOPRC. Since 2014, he said, we have been helping develop the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant but the opportunity to address the landfill issues was not taken.

“From the Peka Lands Trust perspective,” chairperson Mereheeni Hooker said, “it would have been better if the RDC had not gone to court due to their history of pollution. Unfortunately, court action appears to be inevitable.”

“RDC must safeguard the environment and respect the kaitiakitanga role of mana whenua,” said RDRR Chair Glenys Searancke. “We were shocked by most on Council ignoring our request, with one councillor abusing us on social media for raising this matter on behalf of our members.”

Like mana whenua, said Reynold Macpherson (Secretary), RDRR now wants the court case to go ahead to shock the Council into reforming its administrative culture that undermines good governance. It also needs to fix the outsourcing that confused accountabilities, he said, and get the infrastructure into place to protect our environment.

A Callover Hearing in the Hamilton District Court on 29 May is to decide when and where a jury will hear the case. Mana whenua and ratepayers believe that, as victims of the RDC’s pollution management practices, the case should be heard in Rotorua so that justice is seen to be done.

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