Porotī Spring owners angry at light punishment of local farmer

By Dean Nathan

The Māori owners of Poroti Springs are angry a local farmer has been handed a light punishment for damming a stream near the springs. Māori owners say the farmer has been fined $750 and asked to apply for a resource consent for the lake.

A new lake that's clearly visible in these pictures which were taken from a satellite 2.5 kilometres in the sky above Poroti.

Poroti hapū spokesperson Milan Ruka says, “For us, it’s devastating that they can treat any supply of the Waipao stream because if they can do that its open slather to everybody else and it has been because it’s over allocated anyway. Apparently, there’s been a fine for $750 but as hapu Te Uri Roroi Te Parawhau Te Mahurehure of Poroti, we haven't been notified in that regard.  We've seen no assessment of environmental effects.”

Ruka is a river assessor for the Environmental River Patrol of NZ. He provides update reports on the health of streams and rivers.

“The farmer had a wetland it's not really his property in a sense a wetland comes under the RMA. And he excavated it.  Put a damn in and terminated the water flow to the rest of the swamp and put a diving board in.  So from a wetland to a lake with a diving board is quite a substantial enhancement to your property.”

The Northland Regional Council has told Te Kāea the landowner has been issued abatement and infringement notices for the dam they claim was constructed last month. He has been told to remove the structure from the river bed. 

But according to the pictures available on Google Earth, significant earthworks had already been done on the site in January of 2013.

If we were to do the same as this farmer has done there'd be no water going down the springs so Whangarei District Council should be stepping in to have a concern in this regard also just as much as we have.

The council says the unlawful lake won't affect the hydrology at Poroti, because once it was full it would overflow.