Kaipara Concerns


Will John Key return democracy to Kaipara or will he continue the junket of Honest John and his crew for a few more years?

The rule of the unelected commissioners comes to an end in October – just 8 months away. Their rule was supposed to end last October, but the Associate Minister consulted (with blinkers on) with commissioner supporters only and decided to keep them on for another year.

But its crunch time again. Will it be democracy, or will John Key do an Environment Canterbury on us and have a mixed bag of government-appointees and some elected members?

Honest John, operating as usual beneath the murky surface, is already selecting candidates with the right credentials that can be trained up and sponsored in a grab for the democratic seats, while, no doubt, he and his crew will retain the government-appointee seats.

No doubt it will all come out in the next few months. And watch out for the catch words: Robust and stable governance, along with all the smoke and mirrors.

The KDC v Rogan appeal and the Rogan v KDC and NRC judicial review are to be heard on 9 May in a three day fixture.

If the MRRA appeals the Court of Appeal decision to the Supreme Court then this fixture may have to be vacated until the Supreme Court has released its decison.

The stayed cases that are linked to the Rogan District Court case are still up in the air and a conference of counsel and the Judge will take place on 9 February to decide what happens next. The stayed cases now have different plaintiffs and different statements of claim so it is uncertain how the Court will treat them.

Honest John and his crew are continuing to gouge the last pound of flesh out of Kaipara by continuing to sell off what they call “surplus” land.

You will recall that they tried to sell off Sellars Reserve on the estuary in Alamar Crescent/North Avenue and other land around the boat ramps. All the land involved was for the parking for trailers using the boat ramps and the KDC had long ago agreed to designate what is known as Sellars Reserve as a reserve for the enjoyment of the people of the district.

Residents rose up, but after a brief but savage engagement Messrs Robertson, Winder and Booth retreated with bloody noses.

They are still at it, “Beneath the surface”, as Honest John calls it, like three desperate Great Whites searching for anything to get their teeth into.

They have already sold of a few sections, but now they turned their attention to three sections in Wharfdale Crescent in the Heads.

The properties are situated at the eastern end of Wharfdale right on the bend where the walkway goes down to the estuary. It is a deep gully of bush and scrub that incorporates a natural wetland that is home to many species which are up for sale.

The commissioners did not consult with ratepayers on the matter, they simply passed a resolution saying it was not necessary because they are aware of the feelings of ratepayers.

Ratepayers have been slow to stir, but the “Spirt of Mangawhai” is emerging, indignation is mounting, and a counter attack is under way.

At the MRRA AGM recently a local resident did a presentation on the Wharfdale properties and the KDC’s proposals. The meeting passed a resolution that a sale of the sections be postponed.

Following is a letter from Barbara Pengelly, the Secretary of the MRRA, to Honest John that sets out a compelling case.

Dear John
Kevin Pearce has shared your correspondence with him and I noted that you state you are satisfied that you have followed due process in regards to the offering for sale of 23 -27 Wharfdale Crescent. It appears that those three titles are deemed residential at this stage but there have been requests made by concerned residents of Mangawhai to N.R.C. to have this changed, particularly in the hope of having these designated a wetland environment – or at least having number 27 so designated. The necessary survey and decision making has not yet taken place but there is heightened interest in the district that this whole area should become a reserve, particularly now that it appears to be under threat. There has been no consultation with the community.

In the past many people have remained ignorant of the true value of wetlands and consequently many wetlands have been destroyed and turned into pasture. Swamps have been drained and the balance of nature has been destroyed. Wetlands act as a giant sponge by helping to control water flow and quality and are an incredible food source for fish, birds and eels. They are important to Maori as they are host to raupo, flax and purei. These plants produce large populations of aquatic invertebrates, as well as worms and birds, such as the national threatened spotless crake and matuku.

I would ask that the sections be withdrawn from sale pending an investigation by NRC as to whether this land is deemed suitable as a reserve as a “unique wetland environment”.

To quote from the NRC’s own site, ”Most of New Zealand’s wetland animals are not found anywhere else in the world. They include fern birds, New Zealand dabchicks, New Zealand scaup and paradise shelducks. Mudfish are also unique. Animals that can only live in wetlands face an uncertain future through habitat loss and/or damage. Many, like the Australasian bittern, pateke and short-jawed kokopu, are now endangered. Conservation and restoration programmes help to provide the habitat they need and ensure our wildlife survives into the future.

If the N.R.C. were to adopt this as one of its wetland projects in Northland, the site could be developed with a boardwalk across a portion of it but with regard to not disturbing the wildlife and it could be a great project that school parties under the supervision of their teachers could get involved in. It would certainly add to the allure of Mangawhai as a varied and interesting environment- host to walking weekends, art trails, golf, bowls, water sports and a unique wetland.

The Chair of the M.R,R.A, Mr Bruce Rogan has already advised you of the outcome of our A.G.M. of 17 January where the 80 odd attendees passed a resolution that the sale of the aforementioned land be delayed pending a full geological and environmental assessment as well as full consultation with the community. Please do not add to the grievances already in place by once more keeping 'the people " out of the loop. I would ask that you reply to this letter offering some reassurance that you do care about consultation and the future of the environment in Mangawhai.

Kind regards,
Barbara Pengelly,Secretary M.R.R.A.  Mangawhai Heads.

That’s a pretty reasonable letter, no matter what side of the fence you sit on.

So, how did Honest John respond?

Rational, reasonable, eager to show that he values good governance and transparency?

Judge for yourself. This is an abbreviated copy of his letter with the abusive comments removed.

Dear Barbara

I acknowledge you email.

I did receive the email of advice that you refer to from your Chairman recently.

I note that your organisation currently has proceedings lodged against the Council in the High Court.

Further, I understand that you and your fellow committee members are considering appealing to the Supreme Court following the recent decision by the Court of Appeal to turn down MRRA's appeal against Justice Heath's High Court decisions.

Before I respond to the points you make in your email, can I respectively (sic) request that MRRA call an end to its proceedings against the Council; that it encourage its members to pay rates so that the burden of costs to support matters like roads and public reserves are borne by all property owners; and that your chairman ceases sending rude and dishonest emails to me.……..


Please advise whether the MRRA is prepared to change its aggressive and litigious approach to its relationship with the Council.

In other words Honest John will not even consider any approach on the Wharfdale issue until the MRRA ceases all legal action.

That to me is verging on a desperate attempt to blackmail the people of Mangawhai. Decide for yourself. Here is the definition of blackmail in the Crimes Act with the relevant bits highlighted

237 Blackmail

(1) Every one commits blackmail who threatens, expressly or by implication, to make any accusation against any person (whether living or dead), to disclose something about any person (whether living or dead), or to cause serious damage to property or endanger the safety of any person with intent

(a) to cause the person to whom the threat is made to act in accordance with the will of the person making the threat; and

(b) to obtain any benefit or to cause loss to any other person.

Bruce Rogan of the MRRA has urged all ratepayers to write to John Robertson making their views known. You should also write to the Minister, the Prime Minister and also let local newspapers know to what depths he is stooping.

FOCUS AT IT AGAIN  02.02.2016
Talking of newspapers, it is sad to see that the Mangawhai Focus is at it again. For a short amount of time the editor of that newspaper had a sudden rush of journalistic ethics and refrained from his bigoted and uninformed editorials garnered straight from Honest John’s mouth.

The rush of sanity is now in remission. In the latest edition the Focus reverts to being the propaganda sheet for the commissioners.

I would like to include a link to the offending editorial but it is not available on the website. Perhaps it has been “pulled” because of the amount of critical mail already received.

The editor paints a benign picture of the commissioners trying to resolve the illegal debt problem by “whatever means”. Later in his editorial he fantasises about the missed opportunity to combine the expertise of ratepayers and commissioners and solve all the KDC problems together. The blame, of course, lying with the MRRA.

If he had read this website he might have learned that the commissioners were appointed by the government to enforce the debt against the ratepayers and collect the arears of rates. Take a look at their terms of reference.

He is obviously completely ignorant of the agreement that the MRRA reached with the former Council to form a Council/ratepayer focus group to resolve the illegal rates problems. Bruce Rogan also reached agreement with Steve Ruru that an independent forensic accountant be appointed to examine the finances of the KDC. Within a short time of their arrival the commissioners swept that all aside and unilaterally announced the introduction of a validation bill.

The Court of Appeal stated in its decision that Parliament’s endorsement of the Validation Bill was a clear decision from Parliament that the ratepayers of the district were to bear the burden of the illegal debt single-handedly. That is clearly the policy of John Key’s government and that is what his commissioners have enforced. The dismal failure to hold any other party responsible bears witness to this.

The editor of the Focus clearly favours dictatorships over democracy. This is his logic:

Derisive cries of anti-democratic goings-on are spurious to say the least. Voters had their shot at democracy; they, democratically, elected the council in the first place.

In other words, democracy failed, so dictatorship is the remedy. These are the sentiments of every dictator in human history.

He then loses the plot completely by suggesting that the commissioners should sell off unused land and sell of half the golf course"

That would bring in $30 odd million and “the debt is immediately cut in half and imminently (sic) bearable.

That shows his total adherence to the Government’s line that no guilty parties must be held responsible for any of the debt, but it also shows his complete misreading of the Mangawhai community. People are going to be incensed at his suggestion of selling half of the golf course to meet illegal debts that came about because of the illegal actions and incompetence of others

He then becomes a legal expert and opines that the free legal assistance that the MRRA received has got them nowhere. His expertise comes from the school of life:

I have learned throughout life that anything offered for nothing generally is worth exactly that.

He has either had a miserable life totally devoid of the rewards of generosity and charity or he simply trots out bigoted well-worn platitudes.

He suggests, with the benefit of his accumulated legal wisdom, that in respect of Validation Act:

The MRRA should have challenged the Government over this issue and not the KDC or commissioners who only acted on the Government decision.

Why did the lawyers never think of that? Probably because it was Parliament that enacted the Validation Act (not the Government) and in our democracy (!) no one can challenge a decision of Parliament.

Make you own minds up about the latest offering from the Focus, but if you feel strongly about it then write to the editor and let him know what you think. Until we show what the community thinks of the nonsense that he writes he is not going to change.

It's been a tough year.  We started the year with great hopes that our quest to have the rule of law returned to Kaipara would be welcomed by the courts.  We have been sadly disillusioned.  Honest John has steamrollered right over us and swept all before him.

Neither the District Court not the Court of Appeal apeared disposed to our arguments.  Justice de Ridder in the District Court appeared hostile to our cause from the outset and all those who watched his conduct in the court would have had serious concerns about the quality of our justice system.

The decision that emerged from the District Court effectively strips ratepayers of any rights under the legislation, the NZ Bill of Rights Act, and effectively excludes any right to judicial review  in respect of local authorities.

It was a flash-back to the Middle Ages, the age of serfdom.

In the Court of Appeal Justice Miller seemed almost mocking of our claim.  He stated from the outset that if we were successful the results would be "nuclear" for the KDC from a financial point of view.  He seemed to like the phrase and repeated it many times. 

The "nulcear" outcome seemed to arise because of his view of what would happen of the KDC was forced into receivership.  But he seemed to be unaware that receivership for local authorities is deal with in the legislation and is a very gentle animal compared with normal commercial receivership.

He also pointed out that judicial review was discretionary and one got he feeling that the legal rights of ratepayers were dispensable given the nuclear carnage that the vindication of their rights would create for the KDC.

I understand that there is a small group of ratepayers who are still refusing to pay their rates.  Well done you guys for having the fortitude to fight City Hall, the Government and the Courts.  And that also applies to everyone who has fought this battle and finally been forced, one way or another, to succumb to the unbearable pressures imposed on them.

No matter what the courts say, I can state quite categorically that our cause is well-founded and legally sound.  The rates set and assessed by the Commissioners are as illegal as all the other illegal rates in the past.  Parliament set clear obligations that must be followed to the letter if the rates are to create liability on ratepayers.

Likewise the High Court declared the EcoCare loans to be unlawful.  The KDC itself may be compelled to meet its obligations under those debts because of the protected transactions provisons under the LGA, however there is nothing in the law of New Zealand that entitles a local authority to step outside the limitations of the LGRA and set a rate for an unlawful purpose.  The deeming of the debt to be enforceable against the council - despite the underlying illegality - is strictly a contractual matter between the KDC and its banks and it does not affect the Council's power to set rates within the limitations imposed by the LGRA.

But we will put that aside for the moment and concentrate on the festive season ahead.  May I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe one, and may I wish everyone in Kaipara a prosperous New Year.  Hopefully it will be a year when we can put all the issues to bed and hopefully go some way to removing the monkey of a debt of our backs.

We need to remember that Honest John has only ten months to go and then our democratic council can get in there and do what should have been done years ago.  There's a nice thought.

An application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court needs to be filed and served within 20 working days of the date of the Court of Appeal decision. The period from 25 December to 15 January is excluded.

The decision was given on 17 December so 5 working days elapse before the 25 December That leaves 15 working days from 15 January which takes us to Friday 5 February.

Here’s my quick fix for the problems of the KDC.

Historic Illegal Rates

• KDC agrees to credit the vindictive penalties and accumulated penalties and the ultra vires rates (EcoCare rates charged on the “units of demand” for the 2009/2010 to 2011/2012 years and for the 2009/2010 year when service not available on 1 July2009).

• The KDC agrees to set, asses and invoice its rates from 1 July 2016 in full compliance with the LGRA.

• Ratepayers pay arrears of rates.

• Ratepayers withdraw appeal in KDC v Rogan and the judicial review application MRRA and Rogan v KDC. Costs awarded in the District Court are waived.

The vindictive application of penalties “as a lesson” to ratepayers and the entrenched attitudes of the commissioners (no doubt driven by their string-pullers) has prevented this issue being resolved and created a huge amount of bitterness in the community.

A generous approach to the penalties would end the conflict (as ratepayers tried to do a year ago when they tendered their rates without the penalties). The amount involved is miniscule given that any refunds could be dealt with by credits, that the penalties were windfalls anyway, and that the KDC would receive all the arrears of rates. It would also save a fortune in legal costs on both sides.

The ultra vires rates caused the original ratepayer revolt against the KDC. The validation of these utterly illegal rates by the Validation Act was unjustifiable and unconscionable. The amount involved is chicken-feed. A small gesture that would help set things right in the eyes of the community

In respect of the illegal rates processes it is absolutely clear, despite what Judge de Ridder said, that the assessment and invoicing of rates is legally non-compliant. Put that behind us and ensure that in future all the rating processes comply with the law. It is not an onerous task and there is absolutely no disadvantage to the KDC.

Illegal debt

• KDC and ratepayers agree to abide by the decision of the Supreme Court in respect of the illegal debt.


• Get rid of the secrecy, suspect panels and predetermined agendas.

• Start at the very beginning by stating the problems, analysing the water, and then looking at a broad range of options including the suitability and viability of the current plant.

I have been extremely critical of the Mangawhai Focus in the past. It appeared to attach itself firmly to the shirt tails of Honest John and simply became a mouthpiece for his propaganda. Its editorials were half-baked homilies that were one-sided and often showed a company ignorance of the facts.

There has been a massive shift. The editorials have gone and now ratepayers are given a huge amount of space to vent their concerns. The letters to the editor section may have gone too far with wordy overstated cases, but even that has served a purpose.

Dr Ian Greenwood was allowed a considerable latitude to state his case and defend his besmirched honour, and in so doing raised many more questions about his attitudes, and the scientific rigour of the advisory panel's approach to EcoCare Mark 2.

Honest John recently shot himself in both feet by babbling on about the lack of evidence of pollution in the Mangawhai Harbour. He seemed totally unaware that this admission undermined the whole approach to EcoCare Mark I and EcoCare Mark 2. As Christian Simon pointed out in the latest letters to the editor, the research into the problem and its causes should come before the solution.

Karen Wooley in another letter makes her point in respect of bovine pollution at Tern Point, but all of us are left asking why no independent research into the problem has ever been carried out. There is nothing like a bunch of incontrovertible facts to resolve the “he said, she said” debate.

There are good letters from Bruce Rogan, from John Dickie and from Christian Simon. Christopher Dickie makes some telling remarks. He dismisses Honest John’s “political spin” that he suggests that no one buys into and adds:

Instead, what ratepayers need to be able to read in the paper is progress on how the Commissioners are honouring the assurance given a year ago of “sheeting home accountability by taking legal action against Audit New Zealand which we [the Commissioners] believe failed in its duties and against the former Chief Executive.”

Spot on. Honest John has produced thousands of words of propaganda during the last year glossing over the cracks and misrepresenting the true financial status of the KDC but has failed to address in any way the fundamental problem of the liability for the debt.

One year on from his announcement about the OAG and Jack McKerchar he has said nothing. He has been allowed to get away with it so far. But it is clear from the columns of the Focus that the ratepayers of the district are very aware that Honest John and his team have failed miserably in this area. He has allowed the culprits to escape whilst carrying on a vindictive campaign against the innocent ratepayers and dumping all liability at their door.

The letter from Philip Scothern is a gem. He quotes Prof Worzel:

"Politics is another modern tool of plunder. Why bother killing useful labour units in order to steal their resources when regulation, negotiation and manipulation can just as readily divest people of their sovereignty, liberty…”

Over the last ten years we have seen the financial resources of the Kaipara community stripped and transferred to all the rogues that were permitted to perform their rorts on the district by the government watchdogs and Ministers. And, as a penalty for our objections to this systematic theft, we have been stripped of our democracy and vindictively dealt to.

Honest John may have all the big artillery and may have forced local ratepayers into submission, but beneath the surface the resentment is huge and that will swell when the books are opened next year and the true extent of the plunder is finally revealed.

Sepp Blatter hung on in FIFA for a long time and looked invincible. The rort appeared to be too big for anyone to challenge.

There may be a lesson in that for Honest John and his team

COURT OF APPEAL    22.12.2015
Apologies to readers for my delay in reporting on the release of the Court of Appeal decision in the MRRA v KDC case which was released on 17 December.

Quite coincidentally the two old warhorses, Bruce Rogan and myself, were both in hospital at the time of the release and were in no position to read the decision, never mind about assessing it.

Bruce was having his other hip replacement in North Shore Hospital, and I was in Whangarei Hospital having tests to identify a viral infection.

We are both now emerging from the wood and can now start look at the latest offering from the Justice system.

I haven’t read the judgment yet. I intend to get on to that today. But a couple of points have already become clear.

• The conspiracy theorists amongst us take it as read that the courts are, along with the troughers, lined up against us, and are intent on ensuring that ratepayers do not use the law to avoid their fundamental obligation in life which is pay for all the excesses and illegalities of local authorities.

To that end it was predicted that the Court of Appeal decision would be released just prior to Christmas so that the decision and the powerful message it was sending to the ratepayers of New Zealand would go ignored by the press, buried in a mountain of Christmas trivia, and would slip by unnoticed.

It is the standard political manoeuvre that politicians indulge in time and time again and was used to pass the Validation Bill in December two years ago.

• A pre- Christmas release would also create real problems for any appeal to the Supreme Court. There is a set time, calculated in “working days” for an appeal to be lodged, and certain days over the Christmas/New Year’s break are not counted as working days.

The problem is that legal holidays extend far beyond the actual statutory working days and it is almost impossible to find over the holiday period a new barrister who has competence in administrative law and the particular angles of this case, and the time to get himself /herself up to scratch, and to file a Supreme Court appeal within the allocated time-frame.

• Add to this the fact that Matthew Palmer, who championed our cause in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, was immediately appointed as a Judge of the High Court after the Court of Appeal hearing. This was quite strange in that he had only been a QC for about 14 months. But what it meant was that our key legal adviser was removed from our team part way through the case. One day he was our adviser, leading the charge and honing our case, and the next day he was gone, out of touch, and had effectively joined the other side. All the money that we had invested in his expertise and coming to grips with the intricacies of our case was gone forever.

That loss is felt severely at this time. Matthew created our case in a way that was good enough to see him appointed as a judge, but, quite bizarrely, all of his submissions were in fact peremptorily dismissed by the Court of Appeal. This fundamental paradox needs an explanation but we have been denied access to the very person who could offer us some sort of insight into what had happened and who could advise on our next move.

• Several people have raised with me why the Court of Appeal decision was released only a week after I advised in a post that the decision would not be released for some time. The facts are clear:

1. The Court advised on 9 December 2015 that it was “unable to provide you at this time with an expected date of delivery”.

2. On 16 December, one week later, the Court advised that the decision would be released the following day (17 December).

I leave readers to interpret the facts for themselves.

So, according to the conspiracy theorists, we have been well and truly shafted, yet again, by a court system that is supposed to treat citizens with absolute fairness.

The ratepayers of the district picked a massive fight when they alerted the authorities to the illegalities of the KDC. We knew that we would be fighting the local government troughers and all those who feed off it. We knew we would be fighting the banks and other vested interests that are protected by all the mainstream political parties that rely on the banks for financial support.

What we did not realise was that we were actual fighting a judicial system that over the years has exposed a soft underbelly which is beginning to look very suspect.

The specific issues of glaring and persistent legal non-compliance raised by the MRRA broadened into a more fundamental and nagging question of whether local authorities are above the law. And, with the delivery of the District Court decision and the Court of Appeal decision, that inquiry has moved its ground. We are now questioning whether the courts in New Zealand are truly independent of the executive, as they should be, or whether they are simply using their judicial discretion to enforce the political policies of the executive to the detriment of the rule of law.

It’s a very serious question. A question that is of the utmost importance for all New Zealanders.

WANT A NEW JOB?   09.12.2015
How about this one?

This what Honest John has to say about Kaipara:

Following a period of Commissioner governance, the Council is now financially sound and has made significant progress addressing historical legal, organisational performance and community relationship issues. It is very well prepared for the challenges ahead in the District's future. Council elections will be held in October 2016. It is planned that the new CEO will be in place to assist in the leadership of this transition and the extremely promising future of the district.

Is that misleading or not?

Just forget the debt (declared to be illegal by the High Court) that will impoverish the district for generations to come, and the cupboards that will be stripped bare of all funds and trust monies.

Forgive me for my ignorance. I thought that the EcoCare Ponzi Scheme Mark 1 was undertaken to protect our pristine Mangawhai Harbour from human pollution.

I wasn’t around when EcoCare was first mooted but I am sure that all the information that was foisted on ratepayers about the need for the sewerage system swung on the fundamental need to protect our Harbour.

The promoters consistently used “Save the Harbour” as the reason for the scheme and emotive words like “eco”, “pristine”, “preserve” etc were freely bandied around and underpinned the whole approach.

I am also certain that just recently, in a series of articles in the Mangawhai Focus, Honest John’s carefully selected advisory panel told us all repeatedly that our Harbour was at risk because of human pollution and exhorted us to support the EcoCare Ponzi Scheme Mark 2.

Doubt has now been cast on the evidence of pollution by the person one would least expect.  In the latest edition of the Mangawhai Focus Honest John reveals that in fact there is very little hard evidence relating to pollution of the Harbour, both past and present. This is what he says:

The Council has recently launched a project aimed at closing the knowledge gap on water quality in the harbour. This project revolves around research and testing of the harbour and its tributaries, with the overall objective being to ensure a healthy and productive harbour able to be enjoyed and valued by all.

The initial phase involves understanding testing practices. We need to find out what testing has historically happened, what testing is currently happening and what testing may be needed to ensure sustainable management practices.

You may be surprised to know that little testing has been done in the past; to understand harbour health a systematic and co-ordinated approach is needed that gives us knowledge of trends relating to the harbour’s health. This matter was discovered by the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Panel members who assisted the Council to review the Mangawhai Community Wastewater Scheme earlier this year.

Really? “Little testing in the past”. If that is the case, why was the pollution of the Harbour the fundamental driving force for the EcoCare projects when, in fact, there was no evidence to show that pollution was an issue?

That seems to suggest that the pronouncements about human pollution as the reasons for the Mark 1 and Mark 2 schemes were no more than baseless puffery.

It also seems to add weight to the view that the EcoCare undertakings were not about salvaging the Harbour and all that ecological sweet-talk, but quite simply a rort that was hatched by those involved to enrich themselves at the expense of gullible ratepayers.

“HARBOUR POLLUTION” was the catch-word to suck ratepayers in, both for original scheme and for Honest John’s Mark 2 version.

It also seems that the allegations that any contamination comes from bovine sources, allegations that have been around for many years and which have been persistently ignored, may have some significance when some real, independent research is undertaken.

Beca were involved with the original scheme and Harrison Grierson has fronted the current version. It seems quite bizarre that both should launch into projects, which incidentally are massive earners for their own pockets, on the basis that pollution of the Harbour is the raison d'etre for the schemes, when in fact, as Honest John highlights, there was, and is, little hard evidence to support that proposition.

One would have thought that professionals would have done the research well in advance of making any proposals. Clearly, on the basis of what Honest John is now saying, they didn’t.

That revelation should concern us all, but so should Honest John’s reaction to the situation. He advises as follows:

A further advisory team has recently been established consisting of community members, Iwi, and the Council. The community members are offering their time as volunteers, and have been drawn from the panel of the earlier exercise. The team is also working closely with Northland Regional Council.

Their purpose is to:

* Design an ongoing water testing programme for the Mangawhai Harbour.

* Identify the nature of the water quality issue…..etc

Note that no one in the advisory team is named but the members are selected from the previous advisory panel that was carefully hand-picked by Honest John.

Members of that team did themselves no credit by what seemed to be their slavish adherence to ridiculous terms of reference and the predetermined plans of the commissioners and their advisers.

Many ratepayers are sceptical about the panel’s work to date and this new, secret “in-house” appointment suggests that the inquiry into pollution will be anything but frank and independent.

We all know that the commissioners have so far ignored all suggestions of any pollution being caused by bovine effluent flowing into the Harbour from Tern Point and other places.

We also know that several influential people who support the commissioners live in Tern Point.

It will be interesting to see if the secret panel has the courage to allow independent assessment of the Tern Point pollution or whether they will be steered in other directions.

Question: Why was local man John Dickie not appointed to the new panel? He is one of our foremost experts on water quality and has worked all over the world in that capacity.

There are rumours circulating in Mangawahi about a strong stench emanating from Tern Point which is to the south of the Mangawhai Estuary.  Apparently it is not the smell of bovine faeces, as one would expect, but is rather "fishy" in nature.  No doubt the Council will expore the provenance of the smell and establish if there is any substance to any of the rumours. 

OAG GONG  09.12.2015
Sniffer Dog has advised me that the invited luminaries at the accountants knees-up where Lyn Provost was awarded a gong for her work in "strengthening public sector performance and accountability" (see earlier post BEYOND BELIEF....) were not aware of her stuff-up over Kaipara and did not know that she is being sued for negligence in the High Court.

Guests at the conference like Bob Geldorf and Justice Kirby from Australia had no input into the awards and were simply there to provide the dressing for the salad to make it all look good and give the impression that it was an international award for our Auditor-General.

Bear in mind that the award was from accountancy firms and that most accountancy firms in NZ rely on delegated work from the OAG to butter their bread.  Not a bad idea to lick the boots of a fellow troughers even though its incompetence is on public record.

Perhaps Bob Geldorf shoud have serenaded Lyn with his song "Too late she cried". 

ROGAN CASE UPDATE   09.12.2015
An appeal to the High Court has been lodged by Bruce and Heather Rogan in respect of the the decision of Judge de Ridder in the District Court.  The Rogans have also applied for a stay of execution of the District Court decision and payment of costs pending the resolution of the case in the High Court.

It is understood that the appeal will be heard by the High Court in May next year when the judicial review filed by the KDC and the Rogans against the KDC and the NRC will also be heard.

STAYED CASES  09.12.2015
The stayed cases in the District Court that have the same defence as the Rogans' case will also continue to be stayed pending the outcome of the appeal. 

The status of those cases is unclear.  The substance of the Rogan case was changed by the addition of a further plaintiff, the NRC, and by the filing of a subsequent and replacement statement of claim. It was therefore pursued on a different basis to the stayed cases.

COURT OF APPEAL DECISION   Following two separate inquiries to the Court of Appeal about when the judgment could be expected, the following information was forthcoming from the Deputy Registrar of the Court:

The Court will normally deliver its Judgment within 3 months. An enquiry has been made to the Judges, who advise they regret the delay in respect of this matter. I am unable to provide you at this time with an expected date of delivery.

I have made an inquiry of the Judges who presided in the hearing. I have been advised that a date for the delivery of the Judgment cannot be provided at this stage.

The ratepayers' fight to get the rule of law recognised in Kaipara, as you all know, has been long and hard.

We have fought an incompetent council, with a suspect chief executive and mainly dopey councillors, whose lawyers and advisers knew diddlysquat about legal compliance and simple competence.

We have been the victim of a foreign bank and contractors who were bent on rorting the people of the district, and we have hit a brick wall with a government that is intent on imposing its grand design on ratepayers despite its illegality and unfairness.

In short we are up against the trough mentality where those who feed generously at the public trough compel ratepayers and tax payers to keep them supplied with an endless source of sustenance.

On the other side of the coin, they ensure that no trougher has any liability for incompetence, financial imprudence or legal non-compliance.

They have absolutely no liability to anyone, and the fundamental principle that binds the brotherhood is that all troughers must ensure that all fellow troughers are never held accountable for their failures, their incompetence, their negligence, their financial imprudence or their reckless or deliberate flouting of the law.

The OAG is a government organisation that serves as watchdog for the local government sector to ensure compliance with the law. It is also appointed as the auditor for all local authorities and must ensure that they comply with the audit requirements so that the monies of ratepayers are properly protected.

As we all know the OAG failed dismally to perform its obligations in Kaipara. Its audit of the KDC carried out by the OAG’s subsidiary Audit New Zealand reached heights of incompetence that are quite incredible. It ignored the basics check lists and basically rubber stamped the rort that was clearly going on before its eyes.

At the same time the OAG rejected detailed legal submissions from ratepayers establishing persistent illegal rates and development contributions. It kicked for touch and said it was a matter for the courts.

When the full extent of the OAG incompetence was uncovered, Lynn Provost, the Auditor-General, came to Mangawhai and had the audacity to state that she was not going to accept responsibility for the incompetence of her staff. Clearly her knowledge of the law of principal and agency rivals her competence as an auditor.

In any other situation she would have been “gone by lunch time”. But not when you are trougher. The rules are different. The other troughers allowed her to escape. She was allowed to hold an “independent” inquiry into EcoCare even though her Office was principally responsible for the debacle. (The principle of conflict of interest does not apply to troughers.)

Her report found that her Office and the Audit New Zealand were negligent, but the report was delayed to such an extent that the limitation period for suing for negligence had virtually expired.

The previous MP for Northland - whose name cannot be mentioned because the government has put the frighteners on everyone because they want to keep top secret the charges he is going to face in his trial in May next year – put pressure on the commissioners, along with the MRRA and ratepayers, to sue the OAG and audit NZ for negligence.

The commissioners are, of course, fellow troughers  and reluctant to take any action against another trougher whose incompetence had unfortunately, despite the efforts of troughers, had some daylight cast on it. They dithered, while the limitation period seeped away, and, under pressure, finally succumbed and issued proceedings against the OAG claiming damages for negligence.

That was in December 2014. Almost a year ago. Virtually nothing has been heard about how the case is progressing. “Legally privileged”, says Honest John.

We all know that the case will never get to court. There will be a confidential settlement with the OAG denying any liability, and ratepayers will not be advised of the outcome even though it was their monies that were lost because of the OAG’s incompetence and even though they funded the legal case.

The damages agreed to will be derisory even though the fundamental responsibility for the Kaipara illegalities and blow out lie at the door of the OAG.

The Auditor-General is an officer of Parliament. She is appointed by Parliament and can be disciplined and dismissed by Parliament. But whilst there was some criticism of her role in the Kaipara fiasco when the Kaipara Validation Bill was churning its way through Parliament, no action was ever taken against the Auditor-General.

The Christchurch City Council validation bill is wending through Parliament at the moment and MPS are incredulous that yet another council with all its highly paid executives and advisers could stuff up a simple thing like setting rates unlawfully for the last ten years.

There are also questions about the competence of the “auditor” and why these blatant illegalities were not picked up. But there is no attack on the OAG, which was the principal auditor for the CCC, or any criticism of the ongoing incompetence of that Office. She will, again, remain in her job and be free to allow local authorities the freedom to be incompetent and flout the law and the requirements of prudent management.

But it is worse that. Troughers reward fellow troughers with prestigious prizes that grab the headlines and establish their superficial credentials, while the reality of their incompetence skulks unseen in the shadows.

Remember how earlier in the year the KDC commissioners made a huge fuss about the SOLGM gong they won for high performance. It was then revealed by this website that things were not as they seemed. To summarise, the KDC under the stewardship of Peter Winder (and two other commissioners) won a gong for its high performance in awards sponsored by Peter Winder's firm, with Peter Winder and Lyn Provost as two of the judges. (Ironically, Lyn Provost was at that time being sued by the commissioners for negligence.  Such is the cosy rapport between troughers.)

In respect of Lyn Provost her fellow troughers have excelled themselves.   Take a deep breath, and do not read this if you are squeamish.  According to the OAG website:

The Controller and Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, last night received an award for her outstanding contribution to public administration in New Zealand from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

As Auditor-General, Lyn has worked to strengthen public sector performance and accountability in New Zealand and overseas, particularly in the Pacific. She has advocated for financial and public management to ensure that the public sector can deliver quality services to citizens now and in the future.

Lyn received her award from global activist Sir Bob Geldof.

Lyn is on the right

For earlier posts click here.