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By-Law Enforcement

The situation with a Black Power member at Waitara, north of New Plymouth as revealed in a TV1 story last evening has been replicated here with establishment of illegal shacks contructed from recovered materials just south of the Tararu Arts Centre carpark. Anyone driving on the Coast Road can hardly avoid noticing the less than salubrious encampment.

It is not the first time that an attempt has been made to ignore the by-laws on this site - it was tried out a few years ago with the perpetrator eventually packing up and leaving when the rented shed he was using was recovered by its owner.

The latest iteration started with one small shed, then two and then decks together with assorted furniture and other paraphanalia appearing. At least three cars appeared regularly, together with several people both male and female, and even children on occasion.

Council initially appeared to be walking a delicate balance as claims were made that it was Maori (iwi) land, and that Council by-laws did not apply to buildings erected on the site. Discussions apparently remained cordial but without any sign of resolution.

Meanwhile, at the Arts Centre, volunteers working during the day on their own became quite frightened by the activities, and to add to their concern two days ago, a break-in occured into a store room at the back of the Centre from which chairs and LPG bottles were stolen. This appeared to be associated with another new incursion by others who brought along a tent and other stuff in order to set up another encampment at the rear of the sheds.

The original 'settlers' claimed that the new intruders had nothing to do with them, but Police investigations are continuing into this break-in. The last thing the Police wish to do is enter into the by-law argument between the Council and the original 'settlers.' Who can blame them, as long as peace remins paramount - the argument there is with Council!

But there is a limit to everyone's patience, and in the light of the requirement that everyone else within the town boundary being required to comply with by-laws related to building,  water and waste-water connections, rubbish removal, and inspections and licences to occupy on completion of work, our new neighbours are certainly 'pushing the envelope.' The lack of any legal power connection creates other problems.

The situation in Waitara will of course only encourage more of this activity, particularly as the excuse relating to the lack of housing is trotted out, and nervous nellies on the Council delay, and cogitate about what to do next. They won't get any assistance from Ngati Maru - such assistance was refused in the earlier instance on the grounds that the occiupiers were manu whenua occupying iwi land. And a demonstration of support led by Catherine Delahunty can't be too far away.

Yesterday, I made enquiries of Council to establish just what they intend to do about the matter.

Here is the reply from Laurna White:

"Council is aware that there has been construction of structures without any consents required by the Building Act.

A notice to fix was served on the person we believe has undertaken the construction.  We have also now initiated the process of applying to the district court for injunctions to cease further construction activity on the property.  A court hearing has been set down for 7 November at the Thames District court."

You can see this action being dragged out over months of legal argument over land rights, the applicability of by-laws, boundaries, and the legality of the structures. "Ceasing construction" should suit the occupiers just fine - moving them on will be an entirely different 'kettle of fish.'

It all follows a familiar pattern, and our Council has shown little interest to date in sorting it out by using the resolve that is normally applied in other cases of this kind when illegal activities in contravention of by-laws take place.  All you bet on is that the legal costs will mount exponentially.



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Reader Comments (1)

I would suggest that infringements on this site go way beyond the Building Act. The Portacabin now on site appears to be located within the TCDC reserve boundary, breaching the Reserves Act. The structure on Iwi land should also be checked for District Plan compliance on height-to-boundary and reserve setback. Under the RMA these breaches if proved would more than likely be to the landowner(s) as opposed to the "settlers".

October 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKuranui Resident

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