Editorial: Fairness should be uppermost

By Andrew Austin

1 comment

The most contentious issue in Hawke's Bay at the moment must surely be the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Fierce debate has raged for months over whether the dam - mooted for the Makaroro River in Central Hawke's Bay - will be the saviour of farming in our dry region or a costly burden to ratepayers with an adverse environmental effect.

But as the deadline for submissions on the dam looms at 5pm today, the stakes have suddenly increased dramatically. A very powerful voice in the region, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, says that it has been asked by several Heretaunga hapu to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf. The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the "failure by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to recognise and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapu had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial".

This is certainly a significant development in what has been a very controversial process.

The argument that not enough information has been made available for people to make up their own minds has some merit.

Whether this is a deliberate tactic by the regional council or simply because they don't know all the answers at this stage, is the subject of a fierce argument itself.

Understandably there are some commerce sensitivities around a project of this nature, but giving the public all the information at hand cannot be a bad thing. For the process to be fair, it needs to be seen to be fair.

This project will affect our province, either positively or negatively, for many years to come. It is important that pros and cons are made public before a decision is made.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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