An election to find a new mayor of Hastings, after the mid-term resignation of longtime mayor Lawrence Yule, was most interesting because from the moment nominations closed it was likely that the city, outlying suburbs Havelock North and Flaxmere, 38 rural settlements, and everything in between would have a woman at the helm for the first time.

Deputy mayor Sandra Hazlehurst, who was acting mayor from the time Mr Yule exited to seek a seat in Parliament, was the only female among the six nominees chasing the job he vacated.

Thus it was no surprise after the byelection closed on November 21 that Mrs Hazlehurst won comfortably in what was a comparatively successful postal poll, with 39.6 per cent exercising their right to vote.

She claimed 10,154 votes, almost double that of runner-up and fellow councillor Bayden Barber's 5522, and more than three times the tally of Simon Nixon, who had been acting deputy mayor.


For councils across the territory it was still a case of water, water, everywhere, with both Central Hawke's Bay and Napier taking some of the heat off Hastings, notably with the wastewater plants commissioned for Waipukurau and Waipawa in 2012.

Discharging into the area's streams, they'd struggled ever since to comply with resource management conditions and at the end of November an independent report concluded compliance was unlikely to ever be possible without investment of up to $36 million, considerably more again than the original cost.

But the way this news was received paled compared with an outcry in Napier a few days later, on December 5, after a sudden spike in water use led to a warning that supply was critically low, and could run out within 24 hours.

Significant restrictions were placed on water use in Napier, which was averaging 570 litres a day per head of population - almost double the national average of 300 litres.

It was in contrast to the previous summer, when the Napier City Council did not have to impose any water restrictions, despite Hastings having gone close to imposing a similar Level Four ban in January.

The public response in Napier was immediate in more ways than one. The emergency was soon averted as reservoirs replenished, but the outcry persisted, including calls for the ousting of Napier's mayor and chief executive, perhaps overlooking the fact that one was a popularly elected representative and the other the senior appointee, with a contract.

The council had been working to upgrade what had historically been a rarely troubled supply in Napier, but is now working to speed up the programme.

Good, or even great, use of the city's water resources was evident in the repeated success of IronMaori endurance multisport, which staged its quarter ironman in Napier on November 4 and the eighth half-ironman four weeks later.

Based around Pandora Pond, the two big weekends each attracted well over 2000 competitors, each representing hundreds of hours of dedication and commitment to training and better health regimes in a way that no Government policy could ever achieve. Bay-made, phenomenally.

Examples of failed government policy - or more to the point, failure of policy from the just-ousted National Party-led coalition - were continuing to be seen in Hawke's Bay.

These examples were visible both on the streets and in homes through the signs of homelessness, perhaps better defined as a shortage of secure and long-term housing for families and individuals.

It had been with us increasingly since the Government started depleting its state housing stock in 2011, and Hawke's Bay had felt it worse than most with the loss of 380 dwellings in five years, about half in Napier.

Incredibly, the Ministry of Social Development started buying motels for what was called transitional social housing, or what was really short-term state housing.

By mid-year, four motels had been bought, three of them in Hawke's Bay and the Gisborne area, but by the end of the year other, commercially operated motels were still being used for emergency government-funded accommodation.

In the first week of November, it was revealed that in the previous nine months $2m had been spent by the Government on such emergency accommodation.

But almost simultaneously there was a hint some of this was not working as a Napier motel so-bought was near-emptied when five women without viable homes to go to were ordered out.

This exposed a relatively under-the-radar issue which had been pushed into a higher profile by the prevalence of begging on the streets.

On December 11, police removed two men from the streets, but no charges were laid - a similar outcome to a prosecution earlier in the year which was withdrawn after discussions between police and city council staff.

In recognition of the efforts going into trying to fix the problem, Napier housing lobby activist Minnie Ratima was on December 16 named by Hawke's Bay Today as the Hawke's Bay Person of the Year for 2017.

The impact of Maori authority Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated on Hawke's Bay and its economy was highlighted also in November when it was confirmed the iwi had bought into Animation Research, the pioneering Dunedin-based computer graphics company founded and directed by iwi member Ian Taylor, who grew up around Raupunga in Northern Hawke's Bay.

The company has a global reputation based on its innovation with graphic presentation for televised sports.

A week later it was revealed Hawke's Bay businessman Rod Drury had sold 3 million shares in stellar performing accountancy software firm Xero, which he founded.

That came soon after the company had announced it was delisting on the New Zealand stock exchange and would market only on the Australian exchange, a move soon challenged by some the shareholders.

In sight of his Havelock North stamping ground another exchange was developing, as a new walking track was built on the face of Te Mata Peak. It was scorned as an eyesore, somewhat ignoring the fact that the peak's beauty is the view from it, not of it.

When a public outcry led to a decision to restore the face to its former appeal and do away with the track, a lobby immediately emerged to try to save it.