Phil Taueki: Otaki Election Candidate
Phil Taueki: Otaki Election Candidate
Sparks are likely to fly in the Otaki election campaign as fiery activist Phil Taueki enters the race, standing as an Independent candidate.
Mr Taueki, who has been engaged in a bitter battle with Parliament and the police over the state of Lake Horowhenua, says it is a national disgrace that the Crown has let the lake deteriorate to such an extent, that is is now ranked one of the ten worst lakes in the country. Mr Taueki believes the Crown has put the economy, particularly the farming sector, ahead of the environment.
Mr Taueki, who put himself through Victoria University to obtain a Batchelor of Commerce and Administration, will also be campaigning to close the growing gap between rich and poor and believes investment in education and training is the key. This is the only way to boost NZ’s productivity and increase the standard of living for all Kiwis. Social harmony will suffer if we do not change our policies.
He says that when Parliament seized control of Lake Horowhenua, privately owned by his tribe, Mua-Upoko, it was described as a place of wondrous beauty and a bountiful kai basket for its owners.
“The owners, Mua-Upoko, made it clear they would never sell its most prized taonga but they generously agreed to share it with the citizens of New Zealand. Although the Crown passed legislation in 1956 confirming that the Lake belongs to Mua-Upoko and has always belonged to Mua-Upoko, the Crown then effectively stole the lake by transferring all ownership rights over to a board the Crown appoints. The Crown has then stood back and let the local council, a drainage board and others degrade and desecrate the lake to such an extent that it is now an environmental embarrassment. Yet Lake Horowhenua is supposed to be protected by its Recreation Reserve status.
“The Crown has done nothing to protect the lake from contamination by market gardeners, farmers or the local council”, he says. “Levin’s stormwater is discharged into the lake, and there are periodic overflows from the town’s wastewater treatment plant into the lake waters.”
Mr Taueki believes Mr Key’s reference to a clean and green New Zealand is dishonest. “I challenge Mr Key to visit my lake - 100% pure, 100% myth.”
Mr Taueki says the owners of the lake have a right to insist that there are wash-down facilities for boats entering and leaving the water to protect their taonga from infestation by purple loosestrife and other noxious weeds.“ But when I go down to the lake to try and stop people putting unwashed boats onto the lake, the police ignore the bylaws and arrest me instead. This is even though I am standing on my own land, lawfully protecting my tribe’s lake.”
“It is my duty, as Kaitiaki, to protect the taonga of Mua-Upoko despite the racist and illegal police threats and actions”. Despite petitioning Pita Sharples, Tariana Turia and the Chief Judge of the Maori Land Court to help, and they have failed my people terribly. I will take the fight to them, they can run but they cannot hide”
Police culture in Levin is akin to that in apartheid South Africa. Four police officers turned up at his home at 1am in the morning to eject him from his own land, and take him down to the police station to charge him with wilful trespass. “Eight weeks later the Judge tossed the case out after the person who issued the trespass notice was found by the Court to be acting without any authority. It was a malicious complaint and a vindictive prosecution by the Police. For those eight weeks, I was prohibited from returning to my home and the bail conditions also banned me from going anywhere near Lake Horowhenua.
Mr Taueki says that harmonious race relationships with police respecting Maori property rights are another myth.”
“This was a blatant home invasion, but by the police. Imagine how you would feel being thrown out of your home in the middle of the night, having to abandon your pets and property, not to be allowed to go near your home until you had the charge thrown out eight weeks later. This is not just about my rights. If they can do it to me they can do it to you.”
“To retain possession of Lake Horowhenua, my ancestors fended off Te Rauparaha who had famously tried to exterminate Muaupoko. On the bed of the lake rests the bodies of more than one hundred brave warriors. So even though the police keep throwing me into jail, I intend to keep on fighting to protect my tribe’s lake from those who abuse the privilege of public access.”
The Crown has not been able to produce any agreement with the owners allowing public access to the lake. “And although the Crown leases our land to local clubs, the owners haven’t received a cent in payment. Apparently this alienation of our land is legal under this Government.”
He believes Lake Horowhenua will be recognised as one of the most blatant violations of the Treaty of Waitangi in modern history.
He says that if the situation was reversed and the lake belonged to the family of Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy, Parliament and the Police would protect his property rights.
On the campaign trail, he intends to ask his fellow candidate why it should be any different just because it is a Maori-owned lake.
Mr Taueki says that the public will understand that this is not a racial issue or a request for any special rights for Maori.
“If I were to run my sewage, storm water and farm effluent into your home, would you have to put up with it or would you expect to be jailed for protecting what are every citizen’s basic property rights?”
In the meantime Mr Taueki is doing everything he can to expose the injustice and hypocrisy that few people in the Horowhenua want to acknowledge.
Authorised by Phil Taueki, Muaupoko Park Levin