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Commentary and images from recent visitors to the mountain.

09/20/16

FRIENDS OF WAITARA RIVER NOW DEBT FREE


Thanks to all those who supported us and helped pay for the 2011 Waitara Marine outfall hearings. Friends of Waitara river inc. refuse to stoop to such bullying by Taranaki Regional Council .. The irony is Friends of Waitara Inc. won the NZ Seaweek Champion award for 2016. They used the award money to pay our ratepayer funded TRC for the public hearings ..

"The Friends took on the debt because we never believed TRC's position that it belonged with three individuals and were even more appalled that the TRC took out bankruptcy proceedings against them, even though we had already paid back half the debt in three months. What were they thinking? They spent $272 000 of ratepayer money just on legal fees to chase a $12000 charge against these members of our group. In the end, after all the court action, we had to pay an additional $13000 in fees." Sarah Buist, the treasurer for the FOWR group, points out that when the group submitted to the TRC hearing, it was to try and get greater protection for the local waterway. "The emergency discharges of sewage a few months ago were exactly what we were trying to prevent by getting better regulation and management. But despite this, our local elected members turned their backs on us when the money was needed. TRC northern ward councillors, Mike Davey and Roger Maxwell, refused to talk to us or even reply to emails. NPDC said they could do nothing, even though it was their application for a resource consent that triggered all this. Maybe most disappointingly, were local councillor Colin Johnston and community board member, Joe Rauner. Both these men piggybacked on the FOWR submission to the TRC hearing to make their own submissions along the same lines. But they ducked for cover and abandoned the group when the TRC started demanding money."

 

The Taranaki Regional Council singled out three members of the FOWR group, Fiona Clark, Robbie Taylor and Andrea Pikikore Moore, to charge them instead of the group. "It felt very personal," says Clark. "They made it very personal. It was as if they wanted to make sure that they silenced us into the future. But we are deeply grateful for the support we have had, particularly from our local community which doesn't have much money to spare and also from those around the country who supported our fundraising page."

 

The group also thanks our barrister, Alex Hope, who represented us at two court hearings. "He did the work pro bono," says Buist. "He didn't charge us because he believed that what TRC was doing was just wrong on so many levels. We have continued fundraising past the $25000 needed so that we could at least make him a koha of appreciation but it is way short of the $272000 TRC paid their barristers."