Wairoa residents learn about dam

By Sophie Price

3 comments
Hawke's Bay regional councillors Tom Belford (left), Rex Graham, Peter Beaven and chairman Fenton Wilson answer questions from the floor at last night's Ruataniwha Dam meeting in Wairoa.PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND
Hawke's Bay regional councillors Tom Belford (left), Rex Graham, Peter Beaven and chairman Fenton Wilson answer questions from the floor at last night's Ruataniwha Dam meeting in Wairoa.PHOTO/WARREN BUCKLAND

For the first time, the people of Wairoa got to have their say on the Ruataniwha dam last night.

At the third in a series of meetings held on the water storage scheme, this one was much more subdued with 16 people turning out in Wairoa to discuss the topic.

Staged at the town's Gaiety Theatre, the small group of people huddled up the front of the cinema to debate the water storage scheme.

Not one councillor turned up from the Wairoa District Council, with the district's mayor Craig Little currently in Dunedin.

Wairoa's regional councillor and council chairman, Fenton Wilson, turned up 20 minutes late.

At the start of the forum those ratepayers in attendance gave the floor to Mr Wilson's colleagues - Tom Belford, Peter Beaven and Rex Graham.

The other mainstay to these forums, Rick Barker, was also absent - as he is overseas.

The three regional councillors battled noise from work going on outside the theatre, to deliver their talking points on topics such as water storage and what is in it for Wairoa, the environment and $36 million water buy in.

The room was then opened up for questions, Wairoa resident Denys Caves said he was asked if he could attend to mention three things that disappoint many of the constituents of the regional council.

"One is representation," he said.

"Two is communication and the lack of it because this is the first time many of us John Citizens have actually been able to share with you what is behind it all.

"And the other is transparency, financial transparency."

Fellow constituent Dean Whaanga asked Mr Wilson directly about what the benefits of the dam were for Wairoa.

The chairman, and Wairoa councillor, responded, saying it would help the farming community.

"The other opportunity I saw was how many of a whanau are overseas in Australia," he said.

"Where have all the families gone? Well they have chased the work overseas it is a bloody sight easier to watch the grandkids play ruby or soccer or netball in Heretaunga than Perth?

"Anything to bring our families closer to home they might come back and visit us sometimes, wouldn't that be good?

"The other point is increased income from that investment, and where that is spread or spent we don't know."

Mr Caves asked about the proposed $36 million dollar buy-in to the scheme and whether or not any discussion was had about rescinding the decision.

Mr Beaven said it was his intention to seek the council's approval to seek some legal advice on exactly what the options are at this point.

"And whether we shouldn't rescind or at least make the decision that we made two or three weeks ago to buy this water," he said.

"If we should not, at least make that subject to the public consultation that is going to follow because at the moment that is not my understanding of the position we are in and it should be."

Mr Wilson interjected saying, "it is actually".

"It's an in-principle decision, Peter, you know that - it's an in-principle decision, it is not set in stone."

Mr Beaven responded that the decision was not "in principle subject to consultation".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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