Just when we thought the Havelock North gastro crisis could not get any worse, the Hawke's Bay Regional Council begins an investigation into the water-supply contamination.

On the face of it, this seems like the right thing for the protector of the local environment to be doing.

But excuse me while I ask the rather blunt question: Where has the regional council been up until now?

Day after day we had Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee and his team, along with Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule and his team, fronting press conferences to explain what was going on.


There is no doubt they had to do so and I still believe they need to shoulder some blame for their response times.

But missing in action was the regional council, which chose instead, to send out press releases.

We were advised this week that the regional council would be holding a joint press conference with the district council on Tuesday but when our team got there, there was no one from the regional council there. The explanation was that a statement had been sent out.

From the feedback we have received, many of our readers lay quite a sizeable portion of the blame at the regional council's door and some are still convinced, rightly or wrongly, that cattle left to foul our rivers are responsible for the contamination. But now, after nearly two weeks of not being seen, the regional council swoops in with a big investigation. With a Government-appointed inquiry due to begin probing, surely the council should just wait for that?

Well, if it insists on going ahead, let's hope it investigates itself as well, because it may just find a whole heap of the smelly stuff on its own back step.

The regional council is the guardian of the aquifers and it is difficult to argue with those who believe they have been caught asleep at the wheel.