Dam 'conflict' awaits ruling

By Victoria White

3 comments
INQUIRY: There are questions about a councillor's alleged pecuniary interest in the Ruataniwha dam. PHOTO/FILE
INQUIRY: There are questions about a councillor's alleged pecuniary interest in the Ruataniwha dam. PHOTO/FILE

Hawke's Bay Regional Council members are staying quiet on a councillor's alleged pecuniary conflict of interest in the Ruataniwha dam until an Auditor-General ruling.

Questions were raised over whether councillor Debbie Hewitt stood to profit from the Ruataniwha water storage scheme, as her property was located within what appears to be a part of the dam's footprint.

On Friday, Hawke's Bay Today reported Mrs Hewitt, following advice from the council, had asked Auditor-General Lyn Provost for her opinion on the matter and for an exemption so she could continue to participate in the council decisions on the scheme.

In the interim, Mrs Hewitt had said she would not be participating in any future discussions or decisions regarding the Ruataniwha dam as a result of the investigation.

Yesterday, council chairman Fenton Wilson said the council would be waiting until the Auditor-General made a ruling on any potential conflict of interest for Ms Hewitt before making any further public statements on the matter.

Mr Wilson said he understood there had been a lot of interest in the matter, which had seen Mrs Hewitt lodge a formal request with the Auditor-General for the exemption.

"The matter is with the proper authority and we need to await its finding," Mr Wilson said.
He said there was no firm indication of when the Auditor-General would making a ruling on the matter, although it was expected soon.

When the council became aware of the decision, he said it would assess any recommendations made by the Auditor-General and then decide on the appropriate course of action.

A spokesman from the Officer of the Auditor-General said he could not provide a specific timeframe on when the ruling would be made, as they were currently assessing Mrs Hewitt's application to take part in decisions about the water storage scheme.

"We are actively working through these issues with the council and Cr Hewitt, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage," the spokesman said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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