An impassioned speech and emotional call for action on the polluted state of Lake Horowhenua has been made by district councillor Piri-Hira Tukapua, who asked fellow councillors which of them wanted to "be part of a council that changes the course of our future".

Ms Tukapua achieved what she hoped could be the beginning of a new phase of life for the seriously polluted body of water, which is listed as one of the worst for water quality in the country.

She tabled, called for a vote on and had carried a recommendation at the council's Long Term Plan deliberations yesterday.


The recommendation asked for commitment to a feasibility study into affordability and technical and environmental considerations for options to deal with stormwater, which currently carries high levels of pollutants into the lake, as well as an allocated and committed amount of money in the first three years of the LTP.


She initially suggested an extra $9 million should be added to the Long Term Plan budget over its first three years, 20 per cent of the $45 million she said council had saved at their first deliberations meeting the day before by scrapping infrastructure projects which submissions had revealed were not wanted.

This was later amended to between $5.5 million after engineering input.

Both parts of the recommendation were voted on by councillors, with a unanimous vote supporting the feasibility study, and a divided vote on the money, with six councillors for and four against, including the deputy mayor.

Ms Tukapua said through tears that this would be the one item in her five years as a councillor that she would not bow down on.

"This is it for me - die on the hill stuff," she said.

She put out a public message to Phil Taueki, who has been subject to long-term legal battles over his ownership rights for the lake which is on his whanau's ancestral grounds, and for which he is a kaitiaki (guardian).

"My message to Phil and his whanau is that we've all heard the war cry," she said.

"Not just the community, but the nation knows about Lake Horowhenua."

Phil Taueki running a glass bottle through the bright green/blue algal bloom known as cyanobacteria that has spread through Lake Horowhenua. Photo/Ashleigh Collis
Phil Taueki running a glass bottle through the bright green/blue algal bloom known as cyanobacteria that has spread through Lake Horowhenua. Photo/Ashleigh Collis

Ms Tukapua said she wanted to acknowledge and remember Mr Taueki's ancestors, and erect some sort of monument to them, even if she had to pay for it herself "because it's time".

"I hope you would trust me on behalf of this council as an advocate or peacemaker to achieve what we all want - a clean lake."

Mr Taueki himself gave an impassioned submission at Horizons Regional Council's LTP hearing on Wednesday about the state of the lake, and issued trespass notices to the councillors.

Mayor Michael Feyen supported Ms Tukapua's stance and called for any further public conversations on the lake to be carried out away from the council building so everyone could attend.

Mr Taueki has been trespassed from the building for the last three years.

Council chief executive David Clapperton said he wanted to remind councillors about the process for inserting extras into the LTP, which would involve "retrofitting" information into other documents that are part of the legislative process.

He said testing was already being carried out on stormwater discharges, including water entering the drainage system from the hills, and the results of that could influence what treatments could be used on the water before it enters the lake.

The council was working with Horizons Regional Council to produce data.

Councillor Ross Campbell said there were no reports available yet on what contaminants were in the stormwater.

It was being put across that there was a lot of information available already, but there wasn't, he said.

"What is there [in terms of contaminants] is dangerous," he said. "I so wish we could show some action."

Lake Horowhenua's health is still below national standards.
Lake Horowhenua's health is still below national standards.

Deputy mayor Wayne Bishop said that from what they had heard from the chief executive, the council could perhaps simply continue with the studies it was already undertaking.

Councillor Barry Judd pointed out that some submitters to the LTP did not want stormwater to enter the lake at all, and that key stakeholders should be engaged early.

Ms Tukapua said stakeholder engagement should be seen as a given in all council's projects and if they really meant what they said under the Community Outcomes section of the LTP referring to a "stunning environment" they would actually commit to something.

Addressing the council, public and lake stakeholders she said "let's do it."

"Don't be offended when I say 'get over yourselves. Let's do it for the next generation."

"We're going to do our part and we're going to join hands," she said.

"My father never got to swim in there, I never got to swim in there, but the next generation should.