It would appear that one of the most divisive chapters of Hawke's Bay history, the Ruataniwha Dam, has been closed.

A paper to be considered at a Hawke's Bay Regional Council meeting tomorrow proposes the council, and its investment company - the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company ltd (HBRIC) - move on from the scheme and focus their efforts on other priorities.
It is likely this will be accepted.

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There will be many in the region who will be very happy to hear this, but there will also be those who hoped the dam would be the game-changer for the region.


Although this paper has been wrongly accused in the past of being both pro and anti the dam by each side, we deliberately did not take a position. We chose to report the matter as fairly as we could.

What we have always taken a stand against is the wasting of public money and whatever side of the debate you have been on, you would have to admit that the money spent on the dam has been wasted because there is nothing to show for it.

It is a lesson for all of us - we the voters of Hawke's Bay should not allow public money to be spent on any large projects without all the facts and ramifications being laid out clearly.

And that was probably one of the biggest problems with this whole process - the people of Hawke's Bay as a whole were simply left behind and ignored. When they finally had a chance at the last local government elections to say what they felt about the dam, many of them - particularly those in Napier and Hastings - voted in councillors opposed to the dam.

This was always going to be a "Hearts and Minds" campaign - the drivers of this project needed to win the public over in order for this project to succeed.

We need to be more careful with our public money next time.