Candidate suggests moving mushroom firm

By Victoria White

11 comments
Relocating part of Te Mata Mushrooms from its Arataki site could be a "win-win", according to Hastings district mayoral candidate Guy Wellwood.
Relocating part of Te Mata Mushrooms from its Arataki site could be a "win-win", according to Hastings district mayoral candidate Guy Wellwood.

Relocating part of Te Mata Mushrooms from its Arataki site has been suggested as a "win-win" solution for the issues plaguing the company - from odour problems to recent speculation about its link to the gastro outbreak.

Hastings district mayoral candidate Guy Wellwood has said, if elected in October, he will enter into "good faith negotiations" with the company to relocate its composting operation to another site, "well away from Arataki".

The rest of the mushroom operation could remain on site and even be expanded.

"The composting operation with its occasional unpleasant odour has been criticised by local residents, and the farm itself has become a convenient punching bag for lots of issues associated with Arataki, including the possibility of a new school in the area," Mr Wellwood said.

"I see the relocation of the composting operation as solving several issues all at once."

Fellow candidate Adrienne Pierce said it was a generous offer by Mr Wellwood, but more needed to happen before such discussions were held.

"I wouldn't be making any grandiose, generous statements like that with ratepayers' money," she said.

Incumbent Mayor Lawrence Yule said the council had discussed the issues with the company, but had not discussed any possible relocation; to do so could cost between $6 million to $10m.

Te Mata Mushrooms owner Michael Whittaker said moving the composting operation was a "viable option" and long-term solution.

Although open to discussions, he said, in light of the gastroenteritis outbreak, Havelock North "needs to heal" first.

Mr Wellwood said moving the operation would get rid of the odour issue for nearby residents and would also mean a school could be built on the Arataki Motor Camp site.

Relocating would create room for development of residential sections, including in the buffer zone the council "was forced to establish when the odour issue became a political problem", Mr Wellwood said.

This could aid the cost of relocation, Mr Whittaker said, as the new sections could bear the costs for council, meaning there would no economic burden placed on ratepayers.

The council would need to provide some assistance if the operation were to move, especially as it had consents to operate at the current site for another decade, Mr Whittaker said.

Moving part of the operation would also mean it had ongoing operational expenses, and his business would change as a result.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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