Hastings District Council missed an opportunity yesterday when a discussion on the Havelock North water issue was not held in public, a councillor says.

An extraordinary item relating to the water issue was to be added to the agenda for a council meeting yesterday, however it was instead discussed in a publicly excluded briefing after the meeting.

Before this, councillor Wayne Bradshaw asked whether the council would be discussing the Hawke's Bay Regional Council investigation into the district council in public.

However, Mayor Lawrence Yule said he thought it would be more prudent to talk "privately amongst ourselves".


Mr Bradshaw said he was concerned as councillors should be discussing it in public rather than "go behind a veil".

Last night Mr Yule said he had wanted there to be an "open and transparent" discussion on the item first, which was why it was taken off the agenda. It was not due to the announcement of the investigation, although this was discussed in the briefing.

During the "wide-ranging" brief, councillors were also informed on issues around the water contamination - including work to shift water from Hastings to Havelock North, and when the boil water notice could be lifted.

Councillors also came to a unanimous decision on what needed to be done to support the community, and businesses which Mr Yule said he would be announcing today.

Last night, Mr Bradshaw said the briefing had not shed light on why the public could not have been included.

"Everyone's trying to solve this together so the public should be fully informed."

Yesterday had been a chance for the council to discuss the issues in a transparent way, however "council missed that opportunity".

The council was holding press conferences every day, "yet when it's something important, like potentially the council going to get prosecuted by the [Hawke's Bay Regional Council] - because that's what the language read like - that's not discussed in public".