Central Hawke's Bay environmentalist Dan Elderkamp has thrown his hat in the ring for a seat on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Standing at this year's local body elections, he is the first person to announce his candidacy against CHB regional councillor Debbie Hewitt.

Hailing from South Africa, Mr Elderkamp has been in New Zealand for 20 years and has called CHB home for the past nine of these.

The part-time farmer and school bus driver said, while there was a "litany" of reasons that led to his decision to put his hand up, putting the environment back on the top of the environmental regulator's agenda, was number one.


He said he feels the regional council's priorities are "a little skewed" at the moment and he wants to make sure the authority's focus is on the environment and its management and protection of the region's waterways.

While this may be a top priority for the former co-chair of the CHB Forest and Bird branch, Mr Elderkamp said the issue that started him thinking about politics was the Department of Conservation's decision to revoke the protected status of the 22ha of Ruahine Forest Park - a step in the process to allow the Ruataniwha dam to proceed.

He said, in addition to this decision, other issues he believes the water scheme's process has faced are the various public consultations, which he claims have not been well managed.

"And of course there are also the issues of secrecy, openness and transparency, all those things that they do behind closed doors in the public-excluded meetings," he said.

Mr Elderkamp's announcement comes at a time when Mrs Hewitt is battling conflict of interest issues surrounding the water storage scheme.

He made it clear, however, that in running for the position of CHB's regional councillor he had "nothing personal" against the incumbent.

"There are no personal issues at all," he said.

However, he did say that 5-4 divide in council was a part of his motivation to stand.

"Basically, the way that things are going at the regional council at the moment, the history of the dam process, I thought well I would stand up and give it a go," he said.

The local body elections will be held on October 8 this year.