Kevin Rose says he is not bitter about losing his Hawke's Bay Regional Council seat by just 61 votes, but he is disappointed about the manner in which it was done.

Growers Action Group (GAG), unhappy with the council's policy of protecting river flow levels by stopping irrigation, put up three successful candidates for the council's Hastings constituency.

He said this year's campaign had not been as cordial.

He said GAG was "very well funded and organised" but was about getting rid of people rather than people with policies.


"We had continual negativity while those seeking election were unable to offer anything in the way of positive policy.

"They said they would do things better, but none of them said how.

"My concern is that if this trend, which started in 2010, continues then we will find people reluctant to offer themselves for election.

"No reasonable person would want to pay good money to fund a campaign and go through the rubbish that incumbent councillors have been subjected to over these past couple of months."

He said water storage for Hawke's Bay was an old idea "but it is only in the past few years that the council has been brave enough to do it".

"For that I am immensely proud - politicians have to be brave."

He said criticism of council employee Andrew Newman's perceived rush to complete the Tukituki Catchment proposal was misdirected.

"Newman was simply carrying out instructions of council," he said.

He estimates about 38 per cent of irrigated land would be dairy, an industry he has an affinity for.

While in his early 20s and married with a 12 month daughter, his father said the family farm was in trouble and would have to be sold.

"I said, 'like hell'. I went to the bank and asked for some money to buy some cows.

"The bank manager said I was pretty cheeky, but if I could get someone to underwrite me he'd back me.

"We milked cows for six or seven years, which enabled us to stay on the property and turn the corner." He became a sheep and beef farmer who "lived and breathed politics".

Next was fruit growing but he sold his Hastings orchard six years ago, keeping a block of plums "to keep ourselves active and keep our fingers in the industry".

"We will continue to harvest and sell them all here at the back door."

This was his fifth council campaign (he was elected unopposed in 2005) and in 1978 and 1981 he campaigned for the Napier parliamentary seat for National.

He likes the "grunty side of council" - flood and pest control - and hopes the new council will follow through in redeploying the resources that have been successful in bringing down possum numbers, to fighting weasels, ferrets and stoats.

"I felt completely at home and we were making huge advances. I wish the council and new councillors every success as it moves ahead."

Chaplaincy work or becoming a planning commissioner are two possibilities for his next career move, but he would probably do some overseas travel with his wife Jillian first.