The anaesthetist husband of a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor has complained that a barrage of emails from Greenpeace supporters aimed at his wife were potentially harmful to his patients.
On Tuesday, the environmental organisation's website offered anyone a chance to email all nine regional councillors, calling on them to scrap the proposed Ruataniwha water storage scheme. Close to 5000 people sent emails.
Although Councillor Christine Scott dismissed the emails on Tuesday as a "nuisance", they were of more concern for her husband Roger, a specialist anaesthetist, who shares an email server with the councillor.
Mr Scott called the emails a "spam attack" which interfered with clinical information being emailed to him.
With the "sheer volume" of emails that filled their inbox, Mr Scott said those sent to him containing operation lists, or blood test information, "just get hidden in a great pile of junk".
"Its a totally irresponsible thing to do," he said, adding his patients would have been affected if he missed, or accidentally deleted an email.
Greenpeace agriculture campaigner Gen Toop said they had removed Mrs Scott's address from the email recipient list, however it had been the publicly listed address found on the council's website.
"Councillor Scott is a democratically elected representative making decisions about the Ruataniwha dam which are of concern to people right around New Zealand," she said.
"Those people have every right to raise their concerns with elected officials over email."
Ms Toop said it was not a spam attack, as the emails were sent by individuals.
On Tuesday councillor Alan Dick said he had been "under cyber attack", receiving around 2000 emails between 11am and 3pm. Coming in at a rate of three a minute, each was sent from a different address with the subject line: "It's time to shelve the Ruataniwha Dam".
"The delete key's just about worn out," he said.
Although people were welcome to personalise their email, the majority read, "in light of the recent devastating outbreak of gastro illness in Hawke's Bay, and its likely link to intensive agriculture, I urge you to shelve the plans for the Ruataniwha Dam immediately".
The councillors' decision around the dam had ramifications for "the future security of clean water across New Zealand", as proponents of other irrigation schemes were looking to the regional council for the "green light".
Although he classed it as a form of cyber bullying, Mr Dick said the emails would not cause him to change his stance on the proposed dam.
His stance was shared by Mrs Scott, who said the emails were a "mass protest", containing the wrong information about industrial dairying, and trying to create a link between the Havelock North water contamination and farming.
"Bombarding people with these emails...all it is is a nuisance, it's not adding any information or knowledge into the decision making," she said, "it's a total waste of effort."
Hastings councillor Rex Graham said he did not mind receiving the emails, because as a politician it was expected people would share their point's of view.
"To be fair these are people that are deeply concerned about intensive farming in New Zealand and that's a valid point of view," he said. "It's going to have an effect and its something we as a community need to talk about."