Ngāti Pareraukawa representatives are extremely disappointed with the recent release of a review in to the operation of the Hokio Dump at Hokio Beach and have joined others in taking their concerns to the Environment Court.
The hapū are part of the Hokio Neighbourhood Liaison Group (NLG) which was set up in 2002 when Horizons Regional Council granted the Horowhenua District Council resource consents to operate the Hokio Dump, in the sand dunes just west of Levin. The consents were able to be reviewed and during a 2010 review it was agreed the regional council should initiate a publically notified review at five yearly intervals, unless the NLG agreed a review was unnecessary. A review was due in April 2015 however a hearing was not held until September this year.
Ngati Pareraukawa spokesperson Rawiri Moore called the review a white wash and said “to call it disappointing would be a major understatement.”
Ngātokowaru Marae is situated about 500 metres from the dump and the hapū have been at the forefront of opposing the dump and wanting it closed. It gave evidence at the recent hearing of the major impact it has on the environment, the people and the mauri of the area.
Other groups and individuals also gave graphic evidence of the adverse effects which include toxic leachate leaking into Hokio Stream and obnoxious smells.
Mr Moore said the commissioners appear to have listened exclusively to the two local body “bureaucracies”, the regional and district councils, and completely ignored the evidence of the community.
“The review would seem to be a case of the old boy bureaucracy closing ranks and colluding to overcome the very real environmental and cultural concerns of the Hokio and wider Levin community.”
Mr Moore said the regional council lack of action showed they were unwilling to police or enforce the previous conditions of the landfill consents despite numerous complaints and requests from the community.
“Hundreds of complaints of objectionable and offensive odours, have been largely ignored by Horizons. Concerns over toxic leachate have been ‘swept under the carpet’ by the bureaucracy.”
“This is not what we expect from the authorities, given their responsibility of protecting the air and waterways of the area.”
The review confirmed the dump has been operating for at least the past two years in breach of its conditions. If a farmer or business caused such a discharge they would be severely dealt with by the regional council.
Mr Moore said when the dump was established it was predicted the groundwater, the Hokio Stream and ocean would be permanently contaminated. They warned it would become “a tragedy for the health and wellbeing of residents and water resources of the area. Nobody wanted to listen.”
To add insult to injury, the commissioners have largely dismantled and reduced the involvement of the NLG. This was at the request of the Horowhenua District Council and Mr Moore said this is a complete betrayal of undertakings given by council and accepted in good faith by the community during the 2010 review.
The five year reviews have now been changed to ten years which are to be “discretionary” and Mr Moore is skeptical these will be implemented.
“So much for providing a protection mechanism for a defenseless community.”
The review however did set out some conditions to mitigate the landfill’s environmental impact. These included no overland flow discharge of leachate be allowed beyond the site boundary. The district council was also required to design, construct, operate and maintain a cut-off drain on the northern boundary of the landfill site, to reduce the flow of leachate to neighbouring land and to minimise adverse effects on down-gradient surface and groundwater.
Mr Moore said it was a case of shutting the stable door once the horse had bolted.