Legal challenge to Lake Horowhenua Trust mandate continues
Lake Horowhenua Trust has been directed by the Maori Land Court to disclose further documentation to determine whether the Trust has breached its Trust Order – a claim the Trust denies.
Two Lake Horowhenua owners Philip Taueki and Charles Rudd of Levin claim that removal of the trustees is justified and necessary because earthworks and a walkway are being constructed at Lake Horowhenua without consultation with lake owners as required by the Trust Order.
In his interim judgement of 6 September Judge Harvey stated, "The trustees have rejected the allegations and deny the claims of breach of trust. They ask that they simply be allowed to fulfil their duties as trustees, given their mandate from the owners. The trustees have also submitted that the repeated proceedings commenced by Mr Taueki and persons associated with him should be either dismissed or rejected."
Judge Harvey has given Lake Horowhenua Trust one month to respond to 24 questions Mr Taueki's lawyer Leo Watson and Mr Rudd's lawyer Linda Thornton have asked on a range of matters including minutes from monthly Trust meetings and Annual General Meetings, attendance lists, financial reports, evidence of owner support for the walkway, how and when owners were consulted, the Trust's relationship with Te Kakapa Manawa o Muaupoko (TKMoM) and the Lake Accord including funding received from the Lake Accord.
At the first Court hearing on 19 July Leo Watson who represents Mr Taueki said Lake Horowhenua Trust chair Matthew Sword had referred to the earthworks and creation of a walkway as 'minor'.
“They are anything but minor works and photos show the works are continuing,” he said.
Judge Harvey said, “I take Mr Sword's emails and memoranda as written confirmation that works have ceased. It should not go without saying that if evidence is provided that contradicts Mr Sword's assurances then it is likely that the injunction [stopping the works] will be issued."
After the Court hearing Judge Harvey visited Lake Horowhenua with Court staff. “The earthworks that have been completed were viewed, including what appeared to be the removal of significant stands of flax. The works appear reasonably extensive and could not sensibly be described as 'minor'."
He also referred to the tree planting at the lake on 4 August. "I do not consider the act of planting trees falls outside of the trustee’s powers. What I do understand is that the creation of a public walkway, to use the label, is one of the issues that concern beneficiaries. Regarding tree planting, it would obviously be of concern where such activities modified or damaged urupa and waahi tapu and other archeological sites."
The case continues.