Nine months after 5000 Havelock North residents suffered from the contamination of their water supply, answers will be given by the Government Inquiry into the gastro crisis.

A public hearing will be held this afternoon at the Hastings District Court, where the report on Stage One of the inquiry will be released to the public.

The inquiry was ordered after August's contamination of the Havelock North Drinking Water supply, which led to an outbreak of gastroenteritis among nearly 5500 people.

The outbreak was also linked to the deaths of three elderly people, caused Havelock North businessess to suffer financially, cost local agencies nearly $4million, and sparked national concern about the safety of untreated water.


Yesterday Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was feeling "tense" ahead of the meeting.

August's outbreak had been the biggest event of its kind in Hastings' history, "so there's a lot resting on what the findings are and until we know what that is, naturally I'm a little bit nervous about it".

"We've taken this incredibly seriously," he said. "I've spent days in the court listening to evidence, we'll be there tomorrow to listen to the findings and we will front up to those findings afterwards."

He said some of the shortfalls identified during the inquiry process - such as public notification - had already been acted on.

"So hopefully when the findings come out a number of those things will have already been sorted by the council. But the real issue tomorrow that everybody's wanting to understand is what was the cause and how did it happen."

The mayor is currently as in the dark as anyone else as to what the report contains, and what conclusions it draws.

The inquiry was meant to report its findings at the end March but this was delayed, partly because of a since-dropped Hawke's Bay Regional Council move to prosecute the Hastings District Council.

The inquiry has said today inquiry chair, Hon Lyn Stevens QC, will outline the procedure followed, provide a detailed summary of the Stage One report and then outline the process for Stage 2 - which was to have started at the end of November.

Stage one examined how the contamination occurred, how local and central government agencies responded to the subsequent public health outbreak, and how to reduce the risk of similar outbreaks recurring.

On the first day of this stage, the inquiry heard that sheep faeces from two paddocks near the Brookvale Rd bores were the likely cause of the outbreak.

It also heard the district council had a history of transgressions with contaminants in the water supply from Brookvale, particularly E.coli, dating back to 2007.

These transgressions were said to be the highest of any large water supply in the country.

Today Mr Stevens will also outline the steps which were put in place at the end of last year to ensure the interim safety of Havelock North's drinking-water.

The inquiry reconvened briefly in December - after it was announced Brookvale Bore 3 would be put back in action - on how to ensure the short-term safety of the suburb's drinking water supply over the next 12 months.

Nearly $4million combined has been spent on costs associated by the outbreak by the main agencies involved - the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, Hastings District, Hawke's Bay Regional, and Napier City Councils.

Mr Yule is currently standing as the National Party's candidate for the Tukituki electorate.

- The public hearing will be held at 1.45pm today at Hastings District Court, 106 Eastbourne St West, Hastings.