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

Latest

The future of gangs in New Zealand
101322 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Social issues

The future of gangs in New Zealand

by Philippa Tolley

Best of RNZ: Gangs have been a feature of New Zealand society for more than half a century. Philippa Tolley takes a look at what future lies ahead.

Read more
How some Germans are countering the extremist views of the far-right
101320 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z World

How some Germans are countering the extremist view…

by Cathrin Schaer

Germans face a familiar dilemma in finding ways to oppose the views of the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

Read more
White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?
101439 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Auckland Issues

White Noise: Who is shaping Auckland's future?

by Kate Newton

Some Aucklanders have more say in their city's future than others.

Read more
Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Greeks in Heroes
101242 2019-01-21 00:00:00Z Books

Stephen Fry revisits the world of the Ancient Gree…

by Lauren Buckeridge

In his delightful way, Stephen Fry dips back into the ancient world with more stories of tests, quests and feats of old.

Read more
Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a toss
100970 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Profiles

Comedian Jo Brand on the benefits of not giving a…

by Diana Wichtel

Jo Brand’s deadpan style is deceptive, as some blokes have discovered to their very public cost.

Read more
Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that stays within the white lines
101345 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Movies

Green Book: A racially themed road-trip drama that…

by James Robins

Green Book joins a long tradition of civil-rights era movies that barely scratch the surface.

Read more
How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug
101329 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Television

How I caught Marie Kondo's tidying up bug

by Diana Wichtel

Four episodes into Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, something snapped.

Read more
The vital importance of full sleep cycles
100962 2019-01-20 00:00:00Z Health

The vital importance of full sleep cycles

by Mark Broatch

It’s a myth that older adults need less sleep, says University of California professor of neuroscience and psychology Matthew Walker.

Read more