The Hōkio Environment Kaitiaki Alliance (HEKA) and Ngāti Pareraukawa, a hapū of Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga, have achieved a major victory in their longstanding fight against issues emanating from the Levin landfill in Hōkio.

An agreement reached with Horowhenua District Council means there is no a way forward to not only improve management of the site. It will also close much earlier than intended. While it has a resource consent until 2037, it now looks like it will be closed by the end of 2025. This is subject to public consultation.

The focus is now on continued cooperation rather than tit-for-tat actions in court.

Council said it will work with Ngāti Pareraukawa and Muaūpoko towards developing broader relationships.

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Horowhenua District Council Chief Executive David Clapperton said Council recognised that Ngāti Pareraukawa and the Hōkio community had long-held differences of views about the operation and effects of the landfill. Council acknowledged that there had been ongoing community concerns relating to leachate and odour, which will be addressed through this agreement.

Ngātokowaru Marae is about 500 metres northeast of the landfill. Marae Chair Rachael Selby said historically Ngāti Pareraukawa had protested against the landfill, concerned at the long-term environmental impacts on the community and neighbourhood.

"However, we have set aside Environment Court appeals to work positively together to resolve and address the issues around odour and leachate from the landfill," she said.

"The Hōkio community has expressed concern for many years about polluted water flowing from Lake Horowhenua and the Levin Landfill into the Hōkio Stream and to the beach," HEKA spokesperson Christine Moriarty said. "Odour and leachate from the Landfill have been an ongoing issue."

"When the agreement is implemented it will be a critical step to improving land and water quality and as a result HEKA is willing to drop its legal appeals," she said.

Clapperton said a project management group would be created with representatives from the community and Council.

"This will cement relationships and the intention of the agreement of the community and Council working together positively in relation to the operation and management of the landfill moving forward," he said.

"The project management group will engage independent consultants to create an early closure plan as well as work towards improving measures to prevent leachate from the old capped landfill and odour issues."

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Clapperton said the landfill was consented until 2037, but Council intended to bring the closure date forward.

The old Levin landfill, capped.
The old Levin landfill, capped.

"While the decision will be made by councillors under the Local Government Act, the parties to the agreement are ideally seeking a closure date on or before the end of 2025, with a closure plan in place before then," he said.

"All parties acknowledge that Council will have to undertake a special consultative procedure with the residents and ratepayers of Horowhenua before a final decision is made. What we've agreed to is a way forward and a commitment to working together in a positive manner," Clapperton said.

A short history

The first landfill on the site began in the 1950s and was sealed in the 1970s, when a second landfill was created which in turn was sealed and closed. Neither of these landfills were lined. In the late 1990s the current landfill, which has an impermeable liner, was constructed.

The current resource consent was granted in 1997, however this was appealed. The consent order was finally approved in 2002 and is due to expire in 2037.

The landfill is run in accordance with the:
1.Levin Landfill Management Plan
2.Levin Landfill Stormwater Management Plan
3. Levin Landfill – Environmental Monitoring & Reporting Requirements

In 2015, Horizons Regional Council issued a notice of review. Horowhenua District Council then applied for a change in the conditions of the consents. In 2016, Commissioners released their decision, which was subsequently appealed by HEKA, with Ngāti Pareraukawa in support. That appeal will be resolved as a result of the agreement announced.