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Lake Horowhenua gates locked "until ministers listen"

Lake Horowhenua activist vows to keep gates locked until ministers listen

A Māori activist is vowing to keep the public gates into Lake Horowhenua locked until government ministers listen to his concerns.

a closed steel bar
road gate, with signs showing the tino rangatiratanga flag
and the word CLOSED

The gates at Lake Horowhenua, which has been locked shut in an activist's protest. Photo: Supplied

Phil Taueki, who has been been occupying land beside the lake for 15 years, has waged a long-running dispute with Horowhenua District Council to clean up the lake.

It's owned by Manawatū iwi Muaūpoko, but after a parliamentary act in 1905, its administration and management became the responsibility of a government-appointed board.

It's now managed by the board and the Department of Conservation.

Mr Taueki operates without his wider iwi's support, and yesterday he locked the gate and put up signs saying the lake is closed - although he has given keys to the local Sea Cadets and a dog club.

The Waitangi Tribunal has found there were significant treaty breaches in the way the lake has been controlled and administered.

Mr Taueki said he wanted the Crown to follow the tribunal's recommendations to dissolve the board and set up a new governing body.

Phil Taueki. Photo: Supplied

He said he wanted either Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta or Crown-Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis to get in touch and say how they were going to resolve the problem.

"This lake has never been sold, it's never been transferred, it's still in private ownership.

"The certificate of ownership has my name on it, along with about 1500 other people."

He said he would keep the gates locked for as long as it took.

"Maybe when the Pākehās' rights are slightly imposed on - i.e. they can't come down to the lake - maybe then they'll [pay] some attention."

RNZ has approached the Department of Conservation for comment.

Police said they were aware of a protester having locked the gate but were not involved at this point.

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