Havelock North, as it began to grow in population during the 1960s, struggled with finding a suitable area for a rubbish dump.
Jeff Whittaker – Havelock North Borough councillor from 1965 to 1974, then mayor from 1974 until 1983, remembers various attempts to find a suitable area for the good villagers to dispose of their trash.
When Ron Nilsson was Havelock North mayor during 1965, an area was proposed in Awarua Crescent (which means ditch in Maori) where there was a sizable dip into which rubbish could be offloaded.
Havelock identity, the late Judith Payne, had apparently been one of the more vocal opponents to the scheme at a public meeting.
A rather frustrated Ron Nilsson had apparently told her to sit down in rather strong language after her continued vocal opposition.
The council, however, decided to put the rubbish tip there despite the opposition.
Later that year Ron would lose the local body election to Bill Ashcroft and Jeff Whittaker, who was elected for the first time, believes Judith's continual opposition to Ron over the dump site was enough for him to lose the election.
However, the problem of a rubbish dump did not go away after Awarua filled up, with Jeff reflecting the Council had to "find any nook or cranny into which to deposit rubbish."
Until 1989, the Hawke's Bay County Council administered the land not in the urban areas of Napier, Hastings, and Havelock North.
An approach was made to the County Council as to whether they could use some nearby County area for a dump. There was a reluctance to do this and Jeff believes it was "like we were defiling their land."
So the Havelock Borough Council had to either find a suitable space or join forces with Hastings – but that wasn't promising.
Land near Havelock North Primary School was one of the areas identified, with the Education Board giving permission to offload rubbish there as long as it was drained by the council and rubbish covered up.
Between Rush Place and Te Mata Rd was a location the council thought would work as a dump. Council engineer Harry Wright said the stream there could be piped (from pipes they'd make themselves to save money) underground and then rubbish could fill up the area. Problem was ‒ according to Jeff, Harry's instructions weren't followed, and rubbish was dumped on the side of the pipe which broke it – and with some rain, Jeff recalls "all hell broke loose at the dump site".
The pipe was replaced with a stronger one.
Another targeted dump area was Glen Park Place, which backed on to Chambers land.
With residents unhappy about this, Jeff called a meeting at the site as the amount of objectors could not fit into the Havelock North Borough Council offices in Middle Rd.
Perched on a fence post, Jeff addressed the gathering of what he called "irate, but reasonable people, who certainly had their point to make".
The council took on board their concerns and had to look elsewhere.
An approach to the Hawke's Bay County Council to use its Black Bridge dump site as long as costs were shared 50/50 was successful and this occurred in 1968.
Jeff remembers seeing an account for the borough's share of the costs at a council meeting and was in shock at the amount saying, "The councillors have given Dudley Hawkes [engineer] an open chequebook", and declared it a rip off.
This, recalls Jeff, did not go down well, with the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune reporting his comments the next day.
At a meeting of the Hawke's Bay Airport Authority, on which Jeff was a member through the council's share, he felt he was about to be descended upon by a deputation.
After the meeting finished, the door closed to the Napier Borough Council chamber, and three councillors, the chair and county clerk made it clear that Jeff should apologise publicly for bringing their organisation into disrepute, and pay the bill.
Jeff offered little resistance to the men and when "they had run out of wind" he opened the door and walked out.
The Havelock North Borough received an amended account several days later – one at half the original cost.
Black Bridge dump was closed as a public rubbish dump in 1979 after the Hawke's Bay Catchment Board gave instructions to the Hawke's Bay County Council to close it after space began to run out and the level of the dump was higher than an adjoining stopbank. The former dump was then turned into a temporary recycling and transfer station to a nearby landfill site.
Michael Fowler (email@example.com) is a contract researcher and commercial business writer of Hawke's Bay history.