Public consultation is set to go ahead on the now $36 million "in principle" buy-in to the Ruataniwha dam.

After some fiery calls across the chamber - from both the councillors and members of the public gallery - it was decided 5-1 the public will get to have input on the matter this May.

Councillor Christine Scott said it was a "no brainer" to go out to consultation over the buy-in, and to ask a legal opinion as to whether the council should go out to consultation becomes irrelevant.

"This is a chance to actually look ahead and access water for the benefit of the environment and to contribute to the benefit of the biodiversity of the region.

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"So it's a case of deciding: do we commit to some environmental advantages or do we actually simply commit to a financial return and lose that opportunity?"

Councillor Debbie Hewitt was heckled by members of the public gallery when she mentioned she was keen to hear what the community had to say.

"If I keep getting interrupted from the back, then I would like members of the audience to be removed," she said.

To which chairman Fenton Wilson said "and that will happen", before asking Ms Hewitt not to encourage it.

Ms Hewitt then used the rest of her time not to talk about the motion at hand, but rather Hatuma Lake in Central Hawke's Bay.

Councillor Rex Graham then spoke saying he thought he had come to the wrong meeting - following what he labelled a "long-term" dissertation delivered by Ms Scott and Ms Hewitt.

"I had gone to sleep and dozed off," he said. "I thought we were here to move [for] consultation."

Councillor Tom Belford said he did not see this recommendation as a well thought out environmental plan that was being put forward for public consultation. After some back and forth, Mr Wilson said Mr Belford had "a tendency to attack things when people can't defend themselves".

He asked him to be respectful - and warned him that, if he did not watch his language, he would cut him off.

To which a member of the public gallery shouted "what happened to democracy?"

Ms Scott made one amendment before the final vote on the recommendations put forward by council staff.

That was to have a public-excluded workshop with the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company to brief council on the projected distributions and the cash flows over time with increased uptake by the Ruataniwha Ltd Water partnership.

Mr Graham said he could not support Ms Scott's amendment saying it was just "crazy nonsense".

After the meeting, Ms Hewitt addressed the change in the figure put forward by HBRIC - from $43.1 million to $36m.

She said she asked staff to fix the figure that was originally presented by the investment company. Councillors who voted for public consultation were: Fenton Wilson, Debbie Hewitt, Christine Scott, Dave Pipe and Alan Dick. Tom Belford voted against and Rex Graham abstained. Councillors Rick Barker and Peter Beaven were absent from the meeting.