Northern Hawke's Bay iwi Ngati Pahauwera has launched a scathing attack on a national freshwater policy plan that has forced the Hawke's Bay Regional Council to pick and choose which of the Bay's water bodies are "outstanding".
Frustration expressed by Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust chairman Toro Waaka, a former council Regional Planning Committee co-chairman and Department of Conservation manager who says the iwi wants nothing to do with the proposals, comes as no surprise to council chairman Rex Graham.
"He's kind of got a point.
"Everybody thinks their waterways are outstanding. It was a hard one for us. In my view we shouldn't have partaken."
The iwi's primary waterway interest is the Mohaka River, which stretches more than 170km from headwaters in the Kaweka and Kaimanawa ranges to its mouth east of Raupunga. Iwi management is enshrined in the Ngati Pahauwera Treaty Claims Settlement Act 2012.
But Waaka is concerned for all lakes, rivers and streams.
Instead, 38 waterways, including the Mohaka, have been up for now-closed public consultation and fewer than 10 are expected to survive the cut.
The council's strategic planning group manager Tom Skerman said Ngāti Pāhauwera's stance on the plan change was well understood.
"As a represented member of the Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee, their input - alongside other tāngata whenua - was instrumental in shaping and governing the development and ultimately the actual notification of the draft plan," he said.
It included the criteria and process for identifying water bodies as "outstanding", Skerman said, but added: "This is a requirement on regional councils under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and was not optional."
Council staff are processing the submissions and will go out for more input this year.
"Ngāti Pāhauwera can have some influence on this process in terms of the appointment of the hearings panel through their role on the Regional Planning Committee, alongside other tāngata whenua representatives and councillors."
But Waaka says the proposal, referred to by the council as "the best of the best" - is a "waste of money" and the "same-old gravy train" for consultants, researchers and report writers.
"Should the council be deciding the best of the best of the waterways, when it should be clearing up the worst of the worst?" he said.
"We object to the lower half of the Mohaka River being part of this. Our responsibility as kaitiaki to the environment and the people of Hawke's Bay is to ensure the HBRC policies align to the average person's expectation that all our rivers and streams are swimmable, ideally drinkable and supportive healthy natural fauna and flora."
Only a few waterways will be listed, but he said they are inseparable, many being connected through underground tomo.
He said that putting resources into a select few will not address the wider issues but that plans and policies should make sure "no waterways are polluted and those that are polluted will be restored".
"We abstain from participation in this charade and by doing so we make it known we object to the waste of the region's resources and councillor time," he said.