This post dives into the subject of mammon … filthy lucre … money [whatever you want to call it] and shows how it is always our pride and (when it comes to money) often greed that distances us from the purity of the Gospel … from the truth … and from the love of God. I’ve observed over the years that Jews, Old Men (particularly Catholics), Politicians and Pastors seem to find ways to avoid coughing up what they do have – deception abounds in these circles it appears.
I’ve recently gotten myself embroiled in some neighbourly squabbles – no surprises that they all relate to fencing issues – which at their heart is usually a squabble about money. Fortunately the law sets out a well defined path to resolution with the Fencing Act 1978 laying out the principles clearly. Basically neighbours have to share the costs of an adequate fence erected on a boundary equally but can opt out and/or do their own thing if they agree to. In terms of processes, there are simple legal requirements to sort any disagreements out, so it won’t take long to sort it all.
In our situation I have a lease on an industrial zoned property in Matapuna. It has eight residential neighbours and two industrial neighbours. Three of our residential neighbours have 1.8m high fences that provide us with good security and privacy, but the other six don’t. There’s a little more to all of this but that’s the essence of our situation.
Being a good neighbour (I think) I let most of our neighbours know of our intentions long in advance, then approached them recently to sort things out. One dude had his chicken roost and pigeon shed on our property; another had an overgrown section with no fence. Three had encroached onto our land (by quite a bit actually), three used it as a rubbish dump, just chucking their stuff over the fence. Gradually I’ve tidied it all up and now am gradually doing up (upgrading) the substandard fencing.
I know that nobody actually wants to put money into a new fence, especially when they are asked to but the law says you gotta cough up half if the fence sits on the boundary. If you can’t agree, then the initiator issues what we call a Fencing Notice. There are specifications for this issued in law so that it basically explains who, what, where, when and how much each party will do and pay. If the other party doesn’t agree with any part of the Fencing Notice then they can issue a Cross-notice with their proposal(s) and if the two parties cannot agree within 21 days, then a dispute is generated . . . It’s off to court we go. The Disputes Tribunal can handle matters up to $30k, and this is the normal venue to sort most fencing matters out.
While you can plead poverty, and tell the court that you don’t want to upgrade your fence, most rulings are simple pragmatic rulings looking at the law applied to the given situation. If the fence is “adequate” then the Applicant loses. The (the Applicant) can do anything they want on their side of the boundary of course but they cannot force the successful Respondent to pay anything. On the other hand if the fence is deemed inadequate and if the proposed solution appears reasonable then the Respondent loses, and is usually asked to pay 50% of the proposed costs. The fence has to be erected within the timeframe and costs ordered by the court, which assuming the Fencing Notice is reasonable is usually as per the Fencing Notice.
The term “adequate” is only loosely defined in the act, and this measurement has changed over the years. It is also a consideration whether the fence differentiates land ownership in a rural or urban setting (ours is urban); what the socio-political environment is (adequate in the middle of the North Shore or Epsom may be different from adequate in Otara or Mangere for example) and what the Council zoning is (this is highly appropriate in our situation because our is the border between industrial & residential).
Decades ago a 600mm high picket fence, something that would perhaps keep a Chewawa inside if it never jumped up would have done the job in a flash. Nowadays a 1.5m high close-boarded offering is the norm and many are 1.8m.
In our situation I have determined that a close-boarded three rail fence 1.8m high is “adequate” and I have based this on:
- Security (an adequate fence should make it difficult for intruders to scale a fence thus anything less than a 1.8m stepping distance is IMHO inadequate);
- Privacy (an adult standing on flat ground next to a fence should not be able to directly see into a living area of the neighbour);
- Animal Control (an adequate fence should prevent animals passing through the boundary;
- Aesthetics (any fence should “look good” and be in keeping with the neighbourhood – neither old looking nor ‘over the top’); and
- Clear zoning definition (The differentiation of residential to industrial zoning should require a strong delineation – noise, dust, industrial activity etc needs to be differentiated from adjoining residential neighbours).
In our situation there is no need for access between any residential property and ours.
So to the monetary issue and how this ties in with neighbourly squabbles over who pays for what fence . . .
We Jews Know How to Make Money!
Years back I was chatting to a Jewish guy who said to me, “Dennis, we Jews know how to make money!” When I asked him to explain this statement more, he said that they did it when they bought, not so much when they sold.
“Have you ever tried to sell anything to one of us?” was his challenge. Yeah I had, and it was really, really hard as their tendency to beat you down on price and squeeze you to the last drop of blood is legendary. Catholics too prefer to deal with their own so as a non-Catholic I was used to ‘getting used’ in a sales situation.
“You see?” my Jewish mate chipped in triumphantly, “That’s how we do it! It’s when we buy that we make the money, not when we sell!”
Even back then, I could have talked to him forever about the evil of usurious practices, different types of ‘work’ (some that required physical labour and others that didn’t; some that contained passive income types and others that returned only fixed incomes), truth (or more pertinently the absence of it), greed and the power of mammon. I can’t recall if I did though. I probably didn’t because it was a long time ago and I was still scared of speaking too directly back then.
It takes a lot of time, and I mean decades, to get over fear of man. Some never do. Deception though always goes hand in hand with this filthy lucre stuff.
Preaching It But Not Living It
Let’s go through the process that say a Minister or a Pastor will exercise when talking or preaching about money. At the one end of the scale you have the likes of a relatively rich dude founder of Destiny Church Brian Tamaki. He’s got the bling, the Harley Davidson’s, the house, the lifestyle and he let’s it be known to all and sundry that God is good (and that he’s the Bishop).
Yup, I agree that he does a great job with his ‘darkies’ lifting them up from the street and giving them hope, and building their faith. I know and understand this very well because I too attended the local Destiny Church while it existed in Manunui. I too tithed, dollied myself up with a suit and tie and put the spit and polish onto my shoes, because, well, when in Rome …
But really, is this the Jesus that I love, know and serve, or has something gone a little skew-whiff in the humility department?
Then there is the guys at the other end of the scale that say, “Oh poor me! I’ve got nothing! I’m poor!” but who also claim that “Good will provide!” Jehovah Jireh! Make sure you tithe (to me, of course) and God will honour your faith.
Look, I’ve spent more than four decades living, working and playing within the Christian community and I can tell you that I only know of one Pastor, actually a Pressy Minister from Forrest Hill who didn’t have gold or silver or rental properties or investments or cash tucked away in various corners. Most Pastors I know – all of them preached something different about money from what they actually lived. I remember years ago reading from William Barclay about a dispute between a Pastor and his church over money. “Pay him the money and let the hireling go!” was one of the pieces of sage advice.
Oh how many times I have had occasion to recall that sentiment – a mere hireling, yes indeed.
The beautiful purity of faith that a newcomer to Christianity has seems to harden over the years as bitterness and life experiences show us how corrupt the world really is. It’s hard for an Old Man to keep that simple pure outlook. Money it seems, and the retention of it is a window into the soul. One of my neighbours says to me, “Dennis, honestly, we truly cannot afford it! [a new fence]” I’ve told him previously that I don’t trust him, and why. He’s a proven liar, a claim that can be easily validated by two other witnesses.
The joke goes, “You know when the devil is lying? . . . When his lips move!”
You know when a Pastor is lying? . . . When he starts a sentence with, “Honestly . . . “
You see, he’s a Pastor, and I actually know what’s in his bank account – well one of them at least. Please don’t ask me how I know because I am a licensed Private Investigator and an investigative journalist will NOT reveal my sources but let me say that if true, this dude’s claims to poverty would make him one of the only Pastor’s or Ministers in all of New Zealand who couldn’t afford to pay me the $1,200.00 I have asked – his share in what I expect the Disputes Tribunal in early 2022 to determine is an “adequate” fence.
Now this story with my neighbours gets even more weird. I got an email recently from Karen Ngatai. She works at CKC Reap as a Community Law legal representative (yeah I know, don’t laugh!).
Karen Ngatai, CLAW’s Taumarunui Representative
She was approached by one of my neighbours, one that has recently spoken to the wife of the dodgy Pastor neighbour that I don’t trust. I’ll quote you in detail ’cause this one is a real crack-up:
From: Karen Ngatai
Community Legal Advice
“Under Part 3 sec 9 of the Fencing Act, [Neighbour’s name redacted] is not required to pay half shared [sic – Karen means ‘shares’] in any fence that you may require for your development . . . [she] has an existing fence on her boundary with [sic – Karen means ‘which’] is adequate for her needs, therefore does not want to invest in a new fence.”
OK So English may not be Karen’s best subject and her legal status may not read “lawyer” but perhaps if we read the actual law we can see that the law says that opposite to what she says here and that this is made even clearer by the heading that states it too:
Adjoining occupiers to share cost of fencing
I’ll tell you what I think.
I think that when my neighbour asked me how much she would be up for with the new fence and when I said, eventually, “a little over a grand” and when she replied, “Oh that’s OK, I’ve got that much!” that she was being honest.
I think that when my neighbour told me that she had spoken to my other neighbour’s wife about the fence, she was also being honest. She did, and the dodgy one’s wife told her that she could fight me if she wanted to, like they were doing.
I think that her change in stance that she now no longer wants a new fence has come about because of something said in that conversation right along these lines.
I think that when my neighbour says now that she does not have the money for a new fence that she is lying and I also think that she has obtained legal advice from both her dodgy neighbour and a dodgy “legal advisor” (Karen Ngatai). I’ve lodged a claim with the Disputes Tribunal hearing so when the Courts allocate a date it will be a second DT hearing probably in February 2022 where she will be forced to attend, which is the very thing she said that she wanted to avoid – a fight with her neighbour! Actually based on my observations I am dead-sure that my neighbour loves the fun and action of a good fight but that’s beside the point!
Isn’t it interesting how evil spreads? One minute you’ve got one neighbour preaching Jesus on the one hand then lying about how poor he is/they are on the other. The next thing you’ve got another neighbour changing her tune and lying about how poor she is now too as well! Fortunately neither of them are good liars and most adjudicators are honest.
And you know the real crazy thing is that the courts are not interested in the slightest about whether anyone can afford something or not! If they are doing their job properly they will simply apply the law – if the existing fence is deemed inadequate and my solution is, then I will win. Period. The law simply assumes that if you own a property that you can afford to comply with fencing requirements and can contribute your share in the installation of an adequate fence.
It sounds a pretty reasonable assumption to me!
So what do you do when you are dealing with legal advice of this quality? Well you gotta try and help her don’t you?
Karen is well known around town as a politician. She’s the Deputy Mayor. Liked? Not really. Appreciated? Sort of. Trusted? Nah not really. People think that politicians lie most of the time. They know that even stopped clocks are right twice a day and they hope like hell that voting them in ‘again’ will suddenly cause them to do something for the good of the community but Karen’s legal advice here is in keeping with her reputation. Occasionally, like a stopped clock, they get it right but not in this case.
A little old lady has come in and has probably told her that she is being bullied by a big bad neighbour into having to pay for a new fence. Karen has probably said, “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get onto him for you!” and then hasn’t. She has probably been hassled to actually do something about it, because three days later she finally did. Then she scribbled out what she thought was the law, getting it all arse about face in the process.
Typical politician if you ask me. All talk. Do nothing. Get hassled to finally do something. Screw it up. The next step will be to blame someone else – either my neighbour for not telling her the full story or if the past is anything to go by, me for daring to show the world her incompetence!
So here we go . . . to Karen Ngatai I wrote:
Incomplete & Incorrect Legal Analysis
I note that you have been incomplete and I believe are in error with your analysis of your client’s true situation before the law which I will now explain as I see it.
- s9 of the Fencing Act says the opposite to your advice that she “is not required to pay half shares in any fence …”.
- As I provided to her previously, s9 of the Fencing Act actually says each party IS indeed liable for half of an ‘adequate’ fence (s9. Adjoining occupiers to share cost of fencing – Subject to the provisions of this Act, and to any order of the court made under this Act, the occupiers of adjoining lands not divided by an adequate fence are liable to contribute in equal proportions to work on a fence.)
- This matter turns therefore upon whether the existing fence is “adequate” or not, which is a case specific situation.
- I say that it isn’t. You say that your client thinks it is.
- The Fencing Act provides for a simple process to affect improvements to a fence on a boundary in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way with a clearly defined process should voluntary agreement not be met.
Now this is very important to my neighbour who says that she does NOT want a dispute with her neighbour (me). She already has one with another neighbour who thinks she is a fruitloop and she has said this very clearly more than once to me, as I help Karen to understand now:
Your client gave every indication that she did NOT want to enter into any dispute situation and until Thursday, yesterday, gave every indication that she wanted to upgrade her fence, actually stating that she did have the money and that it would be good to have it done. This changed earlier this week after she said she spoke to [name redacted].
Isn’t it great when you can get two neighbours talking?
When she indicated to me on Thursday night that this had changed I initiated the formal process. The first step in this process is the issuance of a Fencing Notice. This I have now done.
Now I was very clear to the little old lady neighbour that did not want to have a fight with me that a Fencing Notice was NOT an indication of a fight. My dodgy neighbour’s wife has no problem fighting me for $1,200.00 because her husband has taught her to hoard and to hide and to lie about their financial situation, so she can (and indeed will likely) fight me to the hilt.
Sadly though, she does not understand nor care that her neighbour however does not want a fight.
So I carry on to Karen with my advice to her:
I suggest that you advise your client to either:
a) Enter into discussions to resolve the matters amicably (with or without your involvement);
b) Supply me with a Cross-notice in which she can state her position, proposals and/or objections in an effort to obtain agreement or go to the DT; or
c) Do nothing, and accept the consequences as I do the work as provided for in the Fencing Notice in which she will be liable for her share.
This is the process under law, and something that Karen should have done but likely did not do, explain what a Fencing Notice actually is.
You see the thing is that now that this little Old Lady has put her trust in others, she can never go back because now with me issuing a Fencing Notice, unless she complies or negotiates an agreement within 21 days, she will need to go to court – the dispute is now automatic.
My understanding from your client thus far is that she has flip-flopped between agreeing to the need to or desirability to upgrade her existing fence and not. Her legal advice appears to have come from multiple sources and is IMHO questionable. I have therefore issued her with a Fencing Notice assuming that her changes of position are best resolved through the formal procedure.
Definition of Adequate
The Fencing Act refers to an “adequate” fence and describes this only generally.
In order to progress matters constructively this will need to be defined in your client’s specific case in order to make a proper assessment of liability. The current fencing option we have between us does not provide any privacy and nor any security for either of us – two important components of “adequacy” in 2021. It allows for direct visual contact from and to both primary outside living areas and has a locked gate that is not needed. In construction it is old, low, rickety, rotting and insecure. It is IMHO unsuitable for any purpose other then keeping a small dog in or out and most definitely not suitable as an “adequate” fence between a residential and industrial property in 2022.
Affordability or ‘suitability to one parties needs’, thoughts or feelings or a desire to have no change to a fencing situation are not strong factors considered in law, indeed it is assumed that a property owner can afford their share of providing an “adequate” fence and that improvements to buildings and fencing are to be encouraged.
Should the matter go to adjudication it is my belief that the DT will find that while she may think that the existing fence may indeed be “adequate for her needs” it does not meet the minimum criteria as “adequate” in 2021 by any reasonable person, nor indeed as my Fencing Notice does, especially as the properties directly border industrial zoning with residential.
Additionally while there are developments planned for my industrial zoned property, there is actually currently no association with a future development at 4/2a Para St relating to this fencing matter. This matter is a current fencing situation where I have determined that the existing fence is not ‘adequate’ and have now issued a Fencing Notice advising your client of my wishes and intentions.
While the term “adequate” is not easily definable in law, I posit that your client’s situation, simply claiming that the existing situation is “adequate”, is unsustainable. I trust that you have advised her of a legal definition of “adequate”, and prepared her for a DT ruling that takes all factors into consideration?
When we have a good worldview, you can see the way that pride causes us to stand tall and “fight for what we believe is right” and f**k the other dude!
You can Christianise things as much as you like; you can call me an anti-Semite or a Pastor hating son-of-a-*** or anything else you like, but I can tell you here and now that people that lie, always (and I mean ALWAYS) get found out and will eventually face their Maker over their BS. Both my disputing neighbours have the money. They have conspired to keep it from me. The money matters will be resolved though for sure, one way or t’other.
My advice . . . get real and get right with Him now. Oh and if you are the owner of a residential property with a crappy fence that neighbours an industrial property that the lessee is doing up and he asks you to contribute your share to a new one – get good legal advice and best not to lie.
The next thing will be that you will commit perjury having to repeat that lie in court . . .
“OMG! Surely you would not commence a Private Prosecution for perjury? Would you? But he’s a pastor isn’t he? . . . OK, so I know that they shouldn’t lie . . . but you . . . you . . . OK, I know that you see the world in black and white but that’s not a very ‘Christian’ of you to attack an innoc . . . OK, alright, maybe he’s not totally innocent?”
“I know you Nisi! I think you would charge him wouldn’t you, if you had the evidence . . . you really are a [professional] arsehole aren’t you? You really do play for keeps don’t you?”
Old Men , Jews, Catholics, Politicians and Pastors all find ways to keep their ‘gotten’ gains – ill or otherwise – and this often involves sacrificing the truth to do so.
Not on my watch, however, and not when the law says otherwise! Standby now as this gets even deeper as I speak with Karen’s boss and get into demon possession!