Hare Krishna group ordered to bring buildings up to scratch

2:36 pm on 5 November 2016

A Hare Krishna group near Nelson has been issued a final warning to bring some of its buildings up to scratch, or they will have to be removed.

The Nelson Hare Krishna Society

The Nelson Hare Krishna Society Photo: Facebook / The Nelson Hare Krishna Society

The Motueka-based Nelson Hare Krishna Society has been the subject of scrutiny since it was warned by the Tasman District Council earlier this year to fix operations around food preparation and housing, which did not meet standards.

A council spokesman said attempts to work with the group had failed and it had now been issued a notice it must fix the problems areas by January next year, or they will have to be removed.

Chris Choat said the group had been operating a range of unconsented accommodation - including caravans, buses and home-made structures - as well as a converted packing shed it ran as a commercial kitchen.

He said the notice issued meant these structures could no longer be used until the right permits were gained.

"Essentially what we have done is issue a 'notice to fix', around an unconsented variety of accommodation," Mr Choat said.

He said some ablution blocks and a temple had also been built on the property without consent.

Mr Choat said if compliance conditions were not met by January the structures would have to be removed, and beyond that it was possible the group could face hefty fines.

"The council has been trying to work with this group, but it's been left in no position but to issue this notice to fix. It means they can no longer use structures for accommodation or the commercial kitchen.

"Our compliance people will be checking," he said.

Attention was drawn to the Motueka Hare Krishna group earlier this year after the Christchurch Hare Krishna temple publicly denounced a former member.

Graham Porter - known as Gokula-Chandra - is a volunteer with the Nelson Hare Krishna Society, and was the subject of a public notice from the president of the Christchurch Hare Krishna Centre.

Paul Macsween, or Ramanuja dasa, said in an advertisement published in The Press that Mr Porter and a group of friends had been operating the Hare Krishna farm near Motueka for several years, but Mr Porter had been excommunicated in 2006.

Mr Porter told RNZ at the time he had never received formal notice of his excommunication, but he was not concerned because the group he was now was not doing anything wrong.

He felt the Motueka group was being targeted by the Christchurch temple because it followed de facto Hare Krishna system.

The Tasman council visited the Motueka site in June when it was alerted to a number of problems there, including the sale and preparation of food.

Mr Choat said then concerns were also raised about the legitimacy of some community activities on the site.

The Nelson Hare Krishna Society is a registered charity.

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