The daily grind has taken a back seat this week for two Waipawa businessmen who are organising a rally in Waipukurau to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Gavin Streeter and Shane Heaton are directors of Isaac's Pumping and Electrical and have taken it upon themselves to show there is grassroots backing for the project.

"The project has been bashed to pieces in the media with the coverage focusing on the Environmental Protection Authority and how councillors are voting.

"We want to take a different approach - this is a rally by the people for the people - the entire Hawke's Bay community needs to get behind this and show their support in the face of the negative attention the process is receiving," Mr Streeter said.


Through their business they deal with farmers as customers and said there is a lot of positivity in the farming community about the project.

"The farmers have been doing their bit over the last few months. We thought we would do something on behalf of the local business owners, as it's not only the farmers who would benefit from this.

"If it goes ahead, it might mean we could employ five more local people at our business," said Mr Heaton.

To that end they were out and about beating the streets in Waipukurau yesterday, visiting as many businesses as they could to spread the word about the rally dubbed "Don't damn the dam".

"We don't just want people from Central Hawke's Bay to attend, though. We want the big industries in Hawke's Bay such as Pan Pac, Heinz Watties and McCains to get involved too - this project will have long-term benefits for the whole region," Mr Streeter said.

The pair were encouraged by the traction the initiative was gathering last week, with TVNZ, TV3 and Prime news stations booked in to cover the event, and local MPs set to attend.

Rather than hearing from community leaders again, however, the aim was to highlight fresh faces, who would be directly affected by the project. The line-up of the speakers to give short talks was still being confirmed yesterday.

The rally will be held at 12pm on Friday, with people encouraged to take their trucks, tractors or work vehicles to the meeting point at the Waipukurau Memorial Hall, situated on the main road at the northern entrance to the town.


The event has been timed to pre-empt the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's decision next week on whether to invest $80 million in the project.