Mystery surrounds the identity of a "slimeball councillor" who leaked a "private" email newsletter by Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler criticising Ngati Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana.
Central Hawke's Bay Council members are split in opinion on Mr Butler's comments about the source of the leaked email, which included details of a tour of Central Hawke's Bay arranged by Mr Butler for Hawke's Bay Today.
The trip was to showcase the economic benefits of irrigation after Mr Butler expressed frustration at the paper's coverage of the Ruataniwha dam project, which he claims are dominated by concerns raised by opponents of the project.
Mr Butler has described the councillor who leaked the email as a "slimeball" and will stop writing the weekly newsletter after its contents were revealed to Mr Tomoana.
He believed his slimeball comment would "definitely not" cause friction or a division among the councillors, and added he was no closer to finding the origin of the leak.
All eight councillors defiantly told Hawke's Bay Today yesterday they were not the source of the leak.
Councillor Terry Kingston, however, said Mr Butler's comments might damage the future of the dam project.
"The comments [slimeball councillor] are in my opinion certainly not helpful in getting the go-ahead for the Ruataniwha dam ... The future of the dam is essential for the economic and employment growth of Central Hawke's Bay.
"I'm not aware of which councillor leaked it. We [councillors] all have our strengths and weaknesses but being a slimeball is certainly not one of them."
He believed Mr Butler's name calling, and the comments about Mr Tomoana, were "offensive" and achieved nothing but a poor reflection on a council wanting to grow and support Central Hawke's Bay.
Councillor Andrew Watts said Mr Butler and the councillors were meeting tomorrow, when the issue would be discussed.
Councillor Kelly Annand was reluctant to comment further on Mr Butler's comments before the matter had been discussed by the councillors and mayor.
Councillor Sally Butler, who is also Mr Butler's sister-in-law, said the leak was a breach of trust.
"He obviously felt it was a breach of trust and any communications like that are private. I would assume he thought that if anyone had a problem they should come to him directly."
Councillor Mark Williams said he had "no idea" who might be the source of the leak but said it was not a good look for council.
"I think if I was in the same shoes as Peter [Butler] I would have done the same thing," referring to the slimeball comment, he said.
Councillor Maitland Manning said Mr Butler's reaction was unfortunate but felt he had been let down by the councillor who leaked the newsletter.
"If someone has a problem they should front up in person and sort it out."
Councillor Ian Sharp offered no comment on Mr Butler's description of one of his fellow colleagues.
Councillor Terry Story said Mr Butler's comments may have been said in the "heat of the moment" but decided against commenting further.
Mr Tomoana has expressed disappointment at the comment and maintained that the iwi supported activities on the Tukituki River and its stance against the dam was aimed at protecting the waterways.