Horowhenua's man of the lake again landed behind bars

by Karl du Fresne / 22 February, 2013
Phil Taueki was back in Levin police cells this week. It’s a place he has come to know well in an eight-year protest at the Lake Horowhenua Domain.
Phil Taueki stands in Lake Horowhenua
Phil Taueki stands in Lake Horowhenua, photo/David White.

Phil Taueki was back in the Levin police cells this week. It’s a place he has come to know well since he began a one-man protest occupation in the Lake Horowhenua Domain eight years ago.

Taueki has faced charges of assault, disorderly behaviour, indecent language, trespass, criminal harassment and – as on this occasion – breach of bail. Many of the charges have eventually been dropped or dismissed.

Phil Taueki and police
photo/David White

After each brush with the law, he returns to his makeshift home in a former plant nursery near the shores of Lake Horowhenua, where a now predictable cycle repeats itself. A confrontation occurs between Taueki and recreational users of the lake, which Taueki regards as sacred. Someone dials 111 and Taueki ends up in handcuffs in the back of a police car.

The 53-year-old former accountant is a member of the Muaupoki iwi that owns the lake, where his ancestors died in battle with Te Rauparaha. His dispute with the authorities that control Lake Horowhenua has a long and tortuous history, but it hinges on environmental degradation (in terms of water quality, the lake is one of the worst in New Zealand) and the right of recreational users to occupy buildings on disputed lakefront land.

Phil Taueki
Phil Taueki, photo/David White

Taueki is generally regarded as a lone wolf and admits his confrontational tactics have caused tension even within his immediate family. The local mayor, Brendan Duffy, says Taueki has no backing within the wider community.

Yet as The Listener reports in its latest issue, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the lake and its Maori owners have been treated shabbily. And the fact that the five bodies which control the lake recently entered into an accord to clean it up, after decades of neglect, suggest that Taueki may be getting some traction.

Lake Horowhenua
Lake Horowhenua, photo/David White.

What’s more, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal against an assault conviction on the ground that he was entitled to use reasonable force against people he regarded as trespassers – and Taueki has attracted the support of a leading expatriate QC and professor of law who is returning to New Zealand to represent him pro bono.

Read more: Karl du Fresne's article Horowhenua’s lake of shame Subscriber contentIcon definitionSubscriber content
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


Climate change: New study finds worst case scenario might not be as bad
85994 2018-01-18 08:27:48Z Environment

Climate change: New study finds worst case scenari…

by Charlie Dreaver

Global warming's worst case scenario may not be as bad as previously thought, a new climate change study says.

Read more
The science of sibling rivalries
85949 2018-01-18 00:00:00Z Science

The science of sibling rivalries

by Sally Blundell

Who was the favourite? Who got the most? Sibling relationships set up patterns that last a lifetime.

Read more
The Post – movie review
85900 2018-01-18 00:00:00Z Movies

The Post – movie review

by Peter Calder

Meryl Streep shines in Steven Spielberg’s thrilling Nixon-era newspaper drama.

Read more
Homegrown rosé: The best of New Zealand's pink wine
86039 2018-01-18 00:00:00Z Wine

Homegrown rosé: The best of New Zealand's pink win…

by Michael Cooper

More people are reaching for a home-grown tinted tipple of rosé.

Read more
MetroLOLs for January
85710 2018-01-18 00:00:00Z Humour

MetroLOLs for January

by Metro

This month's LOLs include: Things your office is planning to implement in 2018 to “cater to millennials”.

Read more
Ending solo mum sanction could cost govt $25m a year
85960 2018-01-17 13:14:44Z Social issues

Ending solo mum sanction could cost govt $25m a ye…

by Craig McCulloch

Officials warn the cost could blow out "considerably" if the plan encourages more mothers not to name their baby's father.

Read more
Confessions of a shoplifter
85914 2018-01-17 07:11:11Z Crime

Confessions of a shoplifter

by Anonymous

A sticky-fingered habit finally catches up with a young Kiwi crim, who discovers the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Read more
Tidy Kiwis? We generate 734kg of waste each per year - and it's growing
85908 2018-01-17 06:59:32Z Environment

Tidy Kiwis? We generate 734kg of waste each per ye…

by Nita Blake-Persen

The government is vowing to cut the amount of waste New Zealanders create, which is estimated to be among the highest in the developed world.

Read more