Hawke's Bay Regional Council is defending the way it consulted with Maori over the Ruataniwha Catchment proposal following action to oppose the scheme by Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated.
Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said his office wanted the scheme paused so it could have time to peer review the reports issued on the proposal, which included the dam on the Makaroro River.
In an interview on Radio Watea, Mr Tomoana said the regional council and its investment company, which was driving the proposal, had not thoroughly discussed the project with all iwi in the region, which was why he was calling for the scheme to be put on hold.
"They keep going around to hapu, to prominent individual Maori until they get a yes, then they take it as a yes for all iwi and we're just saying 'you haven't knocked on our door at all, you may have gone to selected iwi but you haven't called on the wider iwi or even wider hapu."
While hapu nearer to the catchment proposal had signed an agreement in support, Mr Tomoana said other hapu had approached the iwi office to oppose the scheme.
The regional council's investment company managing director Andrew Newman said there had been extensive work to develop relationships with tangata whenua when work on the dam and catchment proposal began.
It included consultation through the council's Regional Planning Committee, which comprised regional councillors and Treaty of Waitangi claimant groups. The committee was responsible for providing iwi with a greater say in managing natural resources.
It had the authority to develop and change statutory planning documents such as regional policy statements, and regional plans required under the Resource Management Act.
An agreement with Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea, which operated across Central Hawke's Bay where the Ruataniwha water storage project was planned, had also been reached.
"The signing of an agreement with Te Taiwhenua o Tamatea is the culmination of three years' work between mana whenua, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and HBRIC (investment company)."
"The scheme has always had the objective of creating a brighter future for Hawke's Bay and its people, this is particularly relevant to mana whenua."
The key points included recognition by the investment company of Tamatea as mana whenua for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme area.
There was an agreement on a number of minimum conditions around environmental and cultural matters, a commitment to advocate for iwi employment as much as practicable.
There was also an opportunity for Tamatea to lead the work on the $8.5 million bio-diversity and environmental mitigation and offset package proposed for the scheme by the investment company. An annual training scholarship to upskill local Maori was part of the agreement.
Expert panel to analyse two bids
An expert selection panel will spend the next couple of months analysing and assessing bids from the two companies shortlisted for the design and construction phase of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.
French-based contractor Bouygues Construction, along with joint-venture partners Obrascon Huarte Lain from Spain and New Zealand company Hawkins, have spent the past four months and millions of dollars developing their bids in a competitive design, review, refinement and costing phase.
The comprehensive bids from the two companies were delivered to the Hawke's Bay Regional Council and will now be evaluated by a panel of experts.
It includes people experienced in dam and large construction projects, financing, irrigation and distribution.
Their evaluation will look at all aspects of the bid, with the emphasis on the technical attributes, pricing, value and risk allocation.
The evaluation is expected to take several weeks and will provide the regional council's investment company with guidance in shortlisting a successful bidder.
Details of the project's cost will in turn give farmers an accurate price to buy water from the scheme and certainty on its overall viability.
The Environmental Protection Authority is accepting further submissions on the regional council's Plan Change 6, which covers a suite of changes to rules for land and water management over the Tukituki catchment.
The closing date and time for further submissions is 5pm, Friday, August 30.