Bags of mock taxpayer money were dropped off at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council today in protest of using public money for the proposed Ruantaniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company is requesting access to $80 million of ratepayer money for the project at an extraordinary meeting today.

The public are excluded from the meeting this morning, only being allowed in council chambers this afternoon.

The torrential rain did not keep the protesters away. About 50 people held signs saying things like "no dam pollution in our rivers" and chanting "stop the dam scam".

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Protester Bruce Bisset said the dam will cost "the port" when the dam fails.

A van labelled with the words, "ACC dirty delivery - public money for dodgy dams" dropped off large bags of mock 'taxpayer' money.

Protesters dumped the bags of fake money at the foot of a substantial police presence keeping them out of the Napier building.

There has been speculation that Government department ACC will invest in the scheme.

In May, Greenpeace NZ dumped six tonnes of dairy sewerage in sealed containers outside ACC's Wellington offices and challenged it to deny these rumours.

ACC has refused to confirm or deny the potential investment.

Greenpeace's agriculture campaigner, Gen Toop said the dam had failed to secure $330 million needed to begin construction, and its overall costs have ballooned to almost $1 billion.

"We've seen huge public opposition, two private investors pulling out of the project, and both Greenpeace and Forest and Bird in an ongoing court battle with HBRIC and the Regional Council over resource consents and access to conservation land," Ms Toop said.

"If the whole thing goes belly up, the ratepayer will have wasted millions," she said.


This week, Hawke's Bay hapu Heretaunga Tamatea said it was considering investing in the scheme.

He Toa Takitini chairperson Doctor Tipene Leach said it would be "remiss" of the hapu not to investigate investing in the scheme.

Guardians of the Aquifer spokeswoman Pauline Doyle the council did not have the mandate to sign off on the scheme.


"In September voting will start in the Local Body Elections. If this was a General Election the decision would be put on hold until all votes are in on 8th October. Until then the council cannot claim to have the mandate to proceed," she said.