Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated plans to oppose the Ruataniwha water storage scheme on behalf of several hapu critical of Hawke's Bay Regional Council's handling of the multi-million dollar project.
The iwi organisation said it would lobby to pull the plug on the dam after feedback from a hui-a-iwi it held at Matahiwi Marae near Clive on Wednesday night.
The decision comes as public submissions on the dam proposal close today, and will be considered by the Board of Inquiry. Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said several Heretaunga hapu wanted the iwi organisation to oppose the dam.
The trigger points included inadequate consultation, selective information release and the regional council's failure to recognise and acknowledge the rights Tino Rangatiratanga hapu had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial.
Mr Tomoana said several hapu commentators were unhappy with the regional council's track record "of not protecting waterways and rivers". They included Mangaroa Marae, near Bridge Pa, which was worried about the lack of water in the Karewarewa Stream in the past 20 years.
There were water issues cited in the Waingongoro Stream in Waimarama, while Kohupatiki Marae, off Farndon Rd also near Clive, was worried about the water quality in the Clive and Pakowhai rivers. In recent years the marae had come up with its own initiatives to improve those waterways.
Mr Tomoana said Ngati Hawea hapu, which had the greatest influence on the Tukituki river from Kahuranaki mountain to the sea, expressed the biggest condemnation of the dam. It urged other hapu along the river to rally against the dam to ensure its environment was not degraded.
"A spokesman for Te Upokoiri hapu that once owned the land above and where the dam is proposed for, said there had been no consultation and by this inaction the regional could not be trusted to progress the project," he said.
Ngati Kahungunu asked the regional council for a six-month extension to allow for proper consultation with hapu, iwi and the wider community.
"This request was denied. Now the time frame is very compressed and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated have until today to make submissions and proposals concerning the Ruataniwha dam project," Mr Tomoana said.
Regional council interim chief executive Liz Lambert said the council was working with marae on the Tukituki River and had been speaking with marae representatives on plan change and resource consents.
"We note that Ngati Kahungunu consider the environment a priority, as do we, and Plan Change 6 is designed to deal with water quality issues in the Tukituki River.
"Ngati Kahungunu are entitled to their opinion and by submitting to the Board of Inquiry they will be able to put their views and any expert evidence they may have for consideration."
Mrs Lambert said it was also important to note the Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee, representing Treaty claimant groups from across the region, was unanimously supportive of Plan Change 6 that seeks to improve water quality in the Tukituki River.
Transparent Hawke's Bay co-chairwoman Pauline Elliott attended the Matahiwi hui and recorded the mood being one of "frustration at not being heard by the regional council or its investment company".
"... the points made were well considered and very clear. The primary focus and charge for iwi is kaitiakitanga of the Tukituki. The stories were humbling."
Mrs Elliott said a Mana Whenua working party had been established but not until April. The Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated call for a six months' pause reflected Transparent Hawke's Bay's request for similar action.
"The refusal to consider such a move ignored the depth of concern and, indeed the willingness to get around the table and take a good look at the proposal in its entirety, and not just the chunks that have been released so far."
Mrs Elliott said people at the hui felt full information on the dam was not available and until there was a full understanding, there could be no support for the project.
"There was considerable concern that the information available was not easy to access or understand and there had been no real engagement.
"A challenge was made to regional council staff attending, and to prospective regional council candidates who also attended, to take note of the call for greater participation in decision making."
Submissions must be provided to the Environmental Protection Authority by 5pm today.