A South Island farm owned by Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias has breached regional council rules by allowing cattle in a lake.
Holidaymaker Allan Brown photographed cows drinking in Lake Taylor, about 50 kilometres northwest of Hawarden, last week. He has since lodged a complaint with Environment Canterbury (ECan).
His picture, which has been widely shared online, showed the animals were on Lakes Station land. Elias and her businessman husband, Hugh Fletcher, are the majority owners of the 5000-hectare high country farm.
Fletcher told RNZ he let the cows into the lake on hot days, but their access was not continuous.
ECan consents and compliance manager Marty Mortiaux said the cattle were not allowed to be in the lake.
“It’s breaking our regional rules, there is a . . . resource consent to carry out the activity, but in this case there is no consent, so they are breaching the rules,” he told RNZ.
“We have an officer that’s investigating. There may well be an explanation that is satisfactory for them being in there and that will determine what sort of enforcement action we look at.”
Mortiaux said there were several penalties that could be imposed, including an abatement notice, an instant $750 fine and, in the worst case, prosecution.
On matters of legal compliance, a farm owned by the Chief Justice should be like Caesar’s Wife – above reproach and suspicion.