Work to uncover answers on the Havelock North water contamination incident which caused over 5000 people to become ill is under way.

An initial public hearing on the incident will begin tomorrow morning.

Last month the Government announced an independent inquiry into August's widespread gastro outbreak, when E.coli in the Hastings suburb's water supply caused about 5200 people to become ill. Two elderly women who had underlying medical conditions died while sick with campylobactor.

The inquiry, expected to report back by the end of next March, will explore the outbreak's cause, the responses to it, and how to prevent such instances in future.


Tomorrow's hearing will take appearances from interested parties on preliminary and procedural matters, including the designation of parties as "core participants" under s17 of the Inquiries Act 2013.

As of last night there were 15 parties who indicated their interest in being involved in proceedings under this act, from national bodies - such as Crown Law on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment, and Department of Internal Affairs - to local residents.

Most requested to be designated as a core participant - including Hastings District Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Hawke's Bay District Health Board, Local Government New Zealand, and Water New Zealand.

MWH New Zealand Ltd, which has a services agreement with the district council, also requested to be designated as a core participant. They have provided the council with engineering services (excluding specialist projects) for water services, roads, solid waste, and other services since 2001.

Several parties indicated their interest in the inquiry but did not specifically ask to be designated as a core participant.

This included the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, Green MP Catherine Delahunty, Transparent Hawke's Bay, the Choose Clean Water Group, and a local resident.

Matthew Nolan, the founder and director of web-based emergency preparedness network Readynet, also wished to be heard by the inquiry.

The inquiry would note the parties who wish to be designated as "core participants" and would release its decision on this shortly after the initial hearing.

Also to be discussed tomorrow will be whether to conduct the inquiry in two stages.

Stage 1 would cover the cause(s) of the outbreak, whether any person or organisation was at fault, the adequacy of drinking water supply management for Havelock North, and the preparedness and responses of local and central government agencies and any other relevant parties.

Stage 2 would cover systemic matters and possible changes needed for the future.

The public hearing will be held at 10am tomorrow at Hastings District Court, 106 Eastbourne St West, Hastings.