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Establishment appointed Council protects Establishment

Written By: - Date published: 5:21 pm, February 11th, 2016 - 39 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, democracy under attack, elections, local government, same old national - Tags:

So National’s appointed ECan (undermining democracy since 2010) has decided that leading business man Hugh Fletcher & Chief Justice Sian Elias shouldn’t be fined for their cows sh!ting in a lake.

Surprise, surprise.

It’s bad enough their maximum fine is $750 – hardly enough to make a large dairy farmer sweat – but for them not to bother applying it is pretty criminal.

Fish & Game says: “ECan’s rules clearly state that cattle should not be standing in lakes, and if it happens then there’s got to be consequences.”

But ECan can only go on about a lack of evidence of faecal matter in the water, just next to the lake.

Well it hardly sits in pats in the water, does it?  But from the pictures, the amount of cattle standing there for the amount of time they’ll have been there… well if you look at a field of cows and get your average time shitting, statistics will tell you the rest…

ECAN was suspended in 2010 and replaced with appointed commissioners. It appeared an opportunity for a resource grab – the regional council manages valuable resources including water and soils, and National argued it allowed “better” decision-making around access to water for the valuable dairy industry.

In 2016 Canterbury will get a little bit of flawed democracy for their regional council.  Christchurch will still have too limited a say.

And if this is what the Government’s appointments do to protect Canterbury’s water and environment… well the restoration of full democracy is still urgent.

39 comments on “Establishment appointed Council protects Establishment ”

  1. Sacha 1

    From news coverage I’ve read, ECan has *never* prosecuted a farmer for violating our waterways like this. Gutless pricks.

  2. Ad 2

    On the other hand, 20,000 protesters, zero arrests. Not a bad start.

  3. Gerald 3

    British PM Ted Heath (Tory) commented on the “unacceptable face of capitalism” , this sort of practice is now the unacceptable face of not only farming but also the lack of actions of our regulator bodies.

  4. Graeme Stanley 4

    Is this why The National Government stole Democracy in Canterbury to protect The Chief Justice of New Zealand.? Doesn,t she stand up for All New Zealanders?

    • Bunji 4.1

      I think National stole democracy more to look after dairy farmers, but those appointed by the powerful tend to side with the powerful. Often sub-conscious, but people know which side their bread is buttered on. Best to have them appointed by the people and answerable to the people…

  5. Ian 5

    common sense decision from ecan. Any pollution from a small number of cattle in a large lake for a short period of time is not an issue. The Avon ,Heathcote and tributaries within Christchurch city that are heavily contaminated with raw human sewerage and heavy metals is a national disgrace. Lianne Dalziel is the head honcho of an organisation responsible for the worst pollution in Canterbury. And she got democratically elected to the job.

    • weston 5.1

      reckon …my sympathies are with the cattle in this instance gotta agree about the avon also being as ive heard it said a number of times over the years how beautifull it is wtf ? ive seen more attractive drains

    • John Shears 5.2

      Raw human sewage contaminating the Avon & Heathcote rivers and tributaries will be leaking from the sewerage reticulation systems in Christchurch that have still not been repaired after the earthquakes
      across the city since September 2010, nearly 6 years ago if , as I take it , you are suggesting that this is an ongoing pollution problem.
      BTW Lianne Dalziel only became Mayor in 2013 and inherited the problems that Gerry Brownlee and his lot failed to make good.

      This has no connection to the wilful release of a herd of cattle into a lake next to a camping ground. Common sense from Ecan ? give me a break.

    • vto 5.3

      Wrong ian. Get the facts before you spout off.

      The current state of the city’s rivers is nearly entirely due to earthquake damage to city infrastructure.

      The remaining non-eq pollution was, prior to the eq’s, in a mode of improvement. Pollution has been improving for a long time and was not too far off being swimmable again.

      Once the eq matters are attended to shortly, the river will race back to its improving track, on the way to swimmable.

      In contrast, all rural rivers have declined over the same period and are predicted to get much worse.

      Lift your game and stop dumping your shit in the public estate. No respect.

  6. Brendon Harre -Left wing Liberal 6

    Oh FFS all you apologists. The law is clear. No stock in waterways. The evidence is irrefutable. Photos of stock in a waterway. The consequence is clear, a fine up to $750. This should have been the result.

    It shouldn’t have been a biggy. Hugh Fletcher and Justice Elias should have apologised for allowing their stock to wander into a waterway, built a fence to prevent it happening again (which I think they are doing) and paid the fine.

    It is this sort non application of the rule of law that is dropping us down the corruption ranks. We have lost the moral fortitude to do the right thing.

    • John Shears 6.1


    • weka 6.2

      “The law is clear. No stock in waterways”

      Anyone got a link to the regulations? Because in the SI it’s normal for large stations to not have fenced waterways. I assume this is true for Canterbury too.

      • Ian 6.2.1

        The law is an ass. Fencing off all waterways is ridiculous.Stocking rates in most hill country and high country are very low and contribute very little to nitrate levels in rivers. Nitrate Leaching from leguminous weeds on crown land is more of a problem.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          [citation needed]

          • weka

            “Fencing off all waterways is ridiculous”

            That’s an opinion. I tend to agree with it to an extent. New dairy conversions should automatically have to fence, that’s a no-brainer and can be built into the commerical model. If they can’t afford it then the conversion shouldn’t happen. Existing dairy farms likewise but with a prompt timeframe.

            High country stations I think should be assessed on a case by case basis because in some places the stock to land ration is low and isn’t causing a problem. That’s also going to depend on the size of the water, its flow etc. It would be better for the government in those cases to encourage stations to not just fence but to landcare restoration eg yes you have to fence off this waterway, but instead of fencing off that one as well it’s recommended that you instead plant a riparian strip on this one.

            I think there are probably small farm and lifestyle block cases where mandatory fencing is not necessarily the best option either. A single horse with access to a creek is not necessarily a problem.

            “Stocking rates in most hill country and high country are very low”

            For the most part that’s self-evident to anyone who spends time there. It would be good for the regional councils to develop guidelines around stocking and impact for different catchments and kinds of land. The issue around overstocking won’t go away with fencing waterways, it would be good to deal with it at the same time as protecting water.

            “and contribute very little to nitrate levels in rivers.”

            That’s been generally true in the past, although I think climate change and changes in river flows means it should be relooked at. We know that low stocked farms have been far less of a problem for water ways because we’ve been doing it for 150 years and those rivers and creeks were generally ok (there’s a caveat on that, which is that conventional old school farming still has negative impacts on the land, but over a much longer time frame. But that’s a different kete of ika).

            We should be looking at high country stations distinctly from dairy farms. In addition to cow shit in water, there are other issues like the increase in phosphate use, whether farms are doing annual burn offs etc. If we want to get this right, as opposed to just making townies feel better by not seeing animals in water, then let’s look at what the actual problems are and then teh solutions.

            “Nitrate Leaching from leguminous weeds on crown land is more of a problem.”

            No idea if that’s true, but a citation for that would be useful.

        • framu

          “The law is an ass”

          then change it – dont flout it and expect a free pass from the regulatory body

          the fact remains – the cows arent allowed in the lake regardless of whether they are shitting or pissing or just standing there

          for farmers to moan about how they should be more respected cause “back bone of the economy” then turn around and expect to be able to flout the very rules they operate under is hypocrisy

          • weka

            “the cows arent allowed in the lake”

            Do you know that for a fact?

            “for farmers to moan about how they should be more respected cause “back bone of the economy” then turn around and expect to be able to flout the very rules they operate under is hypocrisy”

            Yep. And likewise, townies who visit the country for their holidays but don’t otherwise pay attention to what is going on are being hypocrites everytime they eat dairy or meat or buy Icebreaker and then get up in arms when they see a few cows standing in a river. There are complexities to this that are being missed from the debate in the past few weeks. It’s not helpful to lump all types of farming or farmers into the same criticism.

            • framu

              on RNZ they asked the same question at the time – according to media interview with ecan rep the cows are 100% not allowed in that waterway

              and yep – townies (esp meat eaters) who dont bother to know about farming and complain are hypocrites too

              im not lumping all farmers or farming types together beyond one simple thing – that you abide by the regs and work to change them – you dont flout them then expect a free pass as a right – as a farmer or anyone else

              if the by-law is no cows full stop – what then are the complexities?

              • weka

                Ok thanks framu. I wasn’t sure if it was that clear. RNZ also carried the story a few weeks ago about cows in the Matukituki river near Mt Aspiring National Park. There have been stock in that valley for over a hundred years, just like most other big river flat systems in the South Island. There was a hue and a cry because the cattle where standing in water. That’s not where the problems is*, the problem is the big industrial dairy conversions happening elsewhere.

                *there are plenty of other problems with conventional high country farming. We need to get our targets right.

                im not lumping all farmers or farming types together beyond one simple thing – that you abide by the regs and work to change them – you dont flout them then expect a free pass as a right – as a farmer or anyone else

                I agree, although some of the recommended regulations I see on ts are not workable and not even the best thing. And regional councils are still largely bowing down to Fed Farmers so the regs we have already aren’t necessarily the best thing either. I’m curious what the regs actually say in that instance (the lake), because elsewhere they’re not that cut and dried afaik. NZers have sat by and let 2 decades of intensification happen on our backyards and getting upset about a few non-dairy cattle in a lake to me demonstrates that we still haven’t taken responsibility for this. Yes many farmers are doing fucked up things. But the regulatory powers are democratically elected, so what’s up with that?

              • weka

                ECan’s Land and Water Regional Plan allows stock access to lakes, rivers and wetlands, but only under strict conditions. One of them is that cattle can not stand in a lake.



                • weka

                  I don’t have time to read the whole relevant bit but here’s a snip from ECan’s regional plan. I suspect that many people don’t realise how little protection there is for waterways in statute. Then there’s the issue of how regional council staff interpret the regulations.

                  Stock Exclusion
                  5.68 The use and disturbance of the bed (including the banks) of a lake, river or a wetland by stock and any associated discharge to water is a permitted activity, provided the following conditions are met:

                  1.The use or disturbance of the bed (including the banks) of a lake, river or wetland and any associated discharge to water is not categorised as a non-complying activity under Rule 5.70 or a prohibited activity under Rule 5.71; and

                  2.The use or disturbance of the bed (including the banks) of a lake or river and any associated discharge to water is at a stock crossing point that is:

                  (a) not more than 20 m wide; and

                  (b) perpendicular to the direction of water flow, except where this is impracticable
                  owing to the natural contours of the riverbed or adjoining land; and

                  (c) aligns with a constructed track or raceway on either side of the crossing point; or

                  3.The use or disturbance of the bed (including the banks) of a lake or river and any associated discharge to water that is not at a permanent stock crossing point does not result in:

                  (a) pugging or de-vegetation that exposes bare earth in the bed (including the banks) of a lake or river; or

                  (b) a conspicuous change in colour or clarity of the water, outside the Mixing Zone; or

                  (c) cattle standing in any lake; and

                  4.The disturbance of a wetland does not result in a conspicuous change in colour or clarity of water, or pugging or de-vegetation that exposes bare earth.


                  • Sacha

                    yes, that’s crystal clear:

                    “does not result in … cattle standing in any lake”

                    • weka

                      standing vs walking? The cows can talk to the edge of the lake and drink, but not put their feet in it? How would that work?

                      I think you have to read the regulation in the whole, not as a single point. eg

                      “The use or disturbance of the bed… of a lake or river… does not result in:
                      … cattle standing in any lake; and”

                      That to me suggests that the lake bed is ok to have cattle on it. If not, the regulation is a nonsense. I’d guess that farmers think so and that regional council staff feel they have some lattitude in how to enforce. I’d also guess that the regulations were deliberately written to allow that. Otherwise it would say “no cattle can stand or walk in any lake”. Clearly that’s not the intention.

                      I’m not saying this is right. I’m saying that the public debate on this is not really in line with what is happening in reality with regional councils. Nor the reality of high country farming. Besides, it’s still the wrong target.

                      edit, to give another example, what’s the legal definition of ‘pugging’? How many hoof marks and how deep constitute pugging vs normal wear and tear on the land?

                    • Sacha

                      I read the primary distinction as being walking through a lake to an access point on the other side vs being in the lake without intent to proceed to another point. These cattle were going nowhere.

                    • weka

                      That might be true (hard to tell from the photo, and it could be that cattle are moving from one end of the farm to the other going past the lake), and I’m sure farmers bend the rules on that all the time.

                      My main point is that from what I can tell regional council bylaws are somewhat flexible and this is part of why we have the problems we do. The other big part is of course that regional council staff are loathe to piss of farmers too much.

                      And still the wrong target.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The law is an ass. Fencing off all waterways is ridiculous.

          No it’s not because that’s what needs to happen.

          I suppose that you’d probably want this to happen instead?

          Stocking rates in most hill country and high country are very low and contribute very little to nitrate levels in rivers. Nitrate Leaching from leguminous weeds on crown land is more of a problem.


    • Sacha 6.3

      “built a fence to prevent it happening again”

      They already have a fence. They deliberately opened the gate and let their stock into the lake, repeatedly. ECAN are simply refusing to apply their own rules to any farmer in this situation. Useless fools.

      Cows will always relieve themselves when they stand in water. That’s the basis for regulating against them having access. Sure, there needs to be better distinction between the impacts of high-country and lowland stocking rates, which is proposed in the forthcoming national water law changes.

  7. Scott M 7

    Time for a private prosecution…

  8. katipo 8

    One would think the local MP for the past 8 years as someone who owns a few farms and who happened to have been the environment minister from 2012-2014 would have a lot to say on the subject…..Amy????……..crickets… oh well she is probably too busy working on reforming the RMA or attending sharholder meetings of the asset sales funded, Central Plains Irrigation Scheme.

  9. vto 9

    Personally I have given up on Canterbury’s rivers. And the plains themselves.

    It has merely become a vast industrial estate. May as well all be paved over with concrete.

    Used to be that working in the outdoors was wonderful and natural – not now.

  10. DoublePlusGood 10

    No problem with the maximum fine being $750 as long as it is per violation – there’s, by my count, 33 cows in that photo, so 33 x 750 = $24750. That seems like a good start.
    Start throwing around $20k in fines on a regular basis, and there won’t be any more limnologist bovines.

  11. savenz 11


    No shit hitting the fan for Natz cronies!

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 11.1

      I have never heard Sian Elias called a Nat crony before. She’s an horrific lefty.

  12. Smilin 12

    The insane hypocrisy that this govt gets away with just makes me wonder why in the hell we aren’t all marching on this govt to remove them
    Every step that has been taking to try and look after this country has been destroyed pretty much by this govt in the last 8 yrs
    This profit money garbage we get from these fuckers in Natcorp is all lies
    We are being run by a fascist and we know the answer to that, or do we ?

  13. Smilin 13

    The insane hypocrisy that this govt gets away with just makes me wonder why in the hell we aren’t all marching on this govt to remove them
    Every step that has been taking to try and look after this country has been destroyed pretty much by this govt in the last 8 yrs
    This profit money garbage we get from these fuckers in Natcorp is all lies
    We are being run by a fascist and we know the answer to that, or do we ?

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