A marae set to host at least 60 people from a leading Te Matatini kapa haka festival prospect is undaunted by the challenge provided by a new water scare which erupted in Waimarama during the weekend.

The drama started on Saturday when users of the coastal Hawke's Bay settlement's supply were told to boil water before use until further notice because of tests which, according to Hastings District Council, showed "very low levels" of E.coli.

The notice remained in place last night, despite "clear" preliminary results received yesterday from further testing, at six sites across the 250-consumer reticulation area.

Council asset manager Craig Thew said: "We need to understand what led to the E.coli positive tests and until we do so a very conservative approach must stay in place."


"We are progressing with site investigations, data analysis and testing," he said. "That work will continue and we will not change the status until we are completely sure the water is safe to drink."

Yesterday at Waimarama Marae, where the alert extends to the washing of vegetables being prepared for the guests, local Maori Committee chairwoman Raukura (Bernadette) Hamlin and Orine Gillies were in good spirits, with a chiller filled with bottled water which arrived within two hours of the council issuing the boil water notice about 2.30pm on Saturday.

It was part of a council project delivering water to those supplying the public and larger groups, while other precautions included flushing the supply with chlorine and turning-off public drinking taps.

Ms Hamlin said the marae was experienced at coping with big groups, and the arrival of the bottled water meant there was water available for host area performers Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga, practising at Waimarama after their regular facilities became unavailable for the weekend, and, with more deliveries expected, for the five-night stay of Te Matatini guests Opotiki Mai Tawhiti, who arrive tomorrow.

It seemed the major problem might be a shortage of space in the chiller, with the marae taking some pride in puku-replenishment through the breakfasts, dinner and suppers it will feed its guests.

Surrounded by the bottles of clean and pure Heretaunga aquifer water, Ms Gillies said: "We've got nowhere to hang a pig, because the water is more important."

If the boil-water notice remains in place during the week a mobile chiller could be needed at Waimarama Marae to supplement the space.

The area is also hosting two other groups at Hine Te Moa, the opening Wednesday morning troupe Te Manu Huia and multiple winners and Saturday afternoon performer Te Waka Huia.

Hastings district councillor and Waimarama resident Bayden Barber, also a member of the Heretaunga festival-performing group, could claim no credit for the prompt council reaction on Saturday, saying soon after practice yesterday he had barely read the alert in a text message "from the mayor" on Saturday when the water arrived.

Council water services manager Brett Chapman was also a near immediate arrival.

It was the first such alert he could remember in a lifetime living at Waimarama. To meet concerns over lower flow in summer, a new consent is in place enabling the Matanginui springs-sourced Okaihau Rd reservoir supply to be supplemented with water from Waihongoro Stream.

Of the situation over the weekend, he said: "You don't want that, but it is what it is. Hopefully things are OK."

The Waimarama scare was the latest of several in Hawke's Bay since the Havelock North water crisis last August, including a Napier scare which ended with clear tests last week.