McGregor to stand in newly created Ngaruroro Ward

By Lawrence Gullery

The Hawke's Bay Regional Council's deputy chairman, Ewan McGregor, is standing for election in the council's new rural Ngaruroro Ward.

Mr McGregor said he was regarded as an "enthusiast and optimist" and offered a balance of experience, as well as "vision and new ideas".

He had a rural background and was involved in farm forestry and environmental activity for many years.

In April he was awarded the New Zealand Landcare Trust Award for Innovation in Sustainable Forestry at the National Farm Forestry Conference at Orewa.

He said water issues was the key challenge for the regional council, including quality, allocation, flood and drainage management, storage, and the erosion of vulnerable hill country.

"Indeed, one could add coastal erosion."

Mr McGregor said irrigation was the lifeblood of the Heretaunga Plains and vital to the local economy.

"The recent drought proved this beyond doubt. But it also proved that there are weaknesses in the manner of allocation, with bans at crucial times causing crop loss and tree stress.

"There needs to be a review of this to avoid a repetition. This is not about more water, but more flexibility in its uptake"

He made a personal submission to the regional council's annual plan, calling for the water issues to be addressed and if elected he would work with irrigators to consider their problems.

Mr McGregor said that the Ruataniwha dam was one long-term solution and would provide water storage for irrigation.

Whether it was approved would be an important decision for the next council.

"But the council must not let the dam project divert its attention from other water-harvesting opportunities throughout Hawke's Bay, for undoubtedly there are many, both large and small.

"Hawke's Bay people must reconcile themselves to the reality of climate change and accept the challenge as global citizens of seeking to both mitigate it and adopt measures to protect ourselves from its emerging effects. This demands the leadership of the regional council."

Mr McGregor's other interests include arboriculture, and writing. He recently completed the history of the Hawke's Bay Agricultural Pastoral Society and is working on a history of the Hawke's Bay meat industry.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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