Tasman council cracks down on Hare Krishnas

6:52 am on 30 June 2016

Tasman District Council has warned a Hare Krishna community near Nelson it has to fix operations around food preparation and housing, which don't meet standards.

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Photo: 123rf

A council spokesman said they were alerted to a number of problems around the operation of the Hare Krishna Society near Motueka, including the sale and preparation of food.

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

"We responded with a visit with staff from environmental health, building and resource management compliance. There were a number of issues we've asked them to rectify and that's ensuring the correct consents have been applied for, which include those for appropriate living conditions, health around food preparation."

Mr Choat said a commercial kitchen was needed where food was prepared for people beyond those living on site. He said the society issued an open invitation to a weekly feast which required a resource consent and the right kitchen to ensure public safety.

Concerns had also been raised around sanitation and the number of people living in conditions that weren't appropriate, including there being only one toilet at the temple site.

Mr Choat said the society's vegetable stall positioned on the side of a main road was also a concern, but the council had no information that anyone had fallen ill from food prepared or eaten on site.

Mr Choat said the society leaders seemed amenable to the changes, but would now have to apply for a number of resource consents if they wanted to continue operating.

"They have to go through the process and we're discussing options with them. If that doesn't happen we'll have to re-visit the whole thing, but we're working with them at this stage."

Mr Choat said it was likely that reasonable costs would be involved.

RNZ reported last month that the Christchurch Hare Krishna temple had publicly denounced a former member, who is now a volunteer with the Motueka-based Nelson Hare Krishna Society.

Graham Porter, known as Gokula-Chandra, 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 said he had never received formal notice of his excommunication.

The Nelson Hare Krishna Society is a registered charity.