The dam rally last week was successful on many counts, not least the outcome with yesterday's regional council investment decision.

For me, the rally was the uniting of the whole region with the presence of farmers and businesses from outside Hawke's Bay.

It didn't matter whether you were a farmer within the irrigation zone or an agricultural service business in Waipukurau and Hastings or a Heretaunga Plains winery.

Even those without a direct link to Ruataniwha were there to support a better, more prosperous and secure Hawke's Bay.


We have heard from Fish and Game and others that the Tukituki River will get worse and not better, yet two speakers were recreational anglers.

We also heard that this scheme is apparently just for farmers to get rich, yet the two organisers were Waipawa electricians. What this day demonstrated was the realistic support Ruataniwha had.

When the last droughts have hit, it hasn't been just the farmer running out of feed for his stock or the crops wilting. Farmers stop going to town. Sure, they need groceries, but don't need to buy clothing, a new TV or bed.

It's unlikely there would be motorbike or tractor purchases that year either.

That's when all the community feels a drought because of the devastating flow-on effect.

Sure, the dam has to make a profit but what about the extra profit at Napier Port through increased freight handled and the 2500 extra jobs created?

At the moment, shops shut, our young move away and farmers face the prospect of another drought in the coming season.

Will Foley is the Federated Farmers Hawkes Bay Provincial President.