Answers on the Havelock North water contamination may finally be unearthed, with the Government inquiry into it soon to be underway.

Today Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson revealed further details around the inquiry announced by government last month.

During August E.Coli in the Hastings suburb's water supply caused about 5200 people to become ill with campylobactor, and two elderly women, with underlying medical conditions, died while sick with it.

Reports have since emerged of people suffering from secondary infections- with one person admitted to Hawke's Bay Hospital with Guillain-Barre Syndrome last week.


Today it was announced the inquiry into the incident would begin this week, with an initial sitting in the region, in the coming weeks. It will be chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge, the Honourable Lyn Stevens, QC.

Justice Stevens will be joined on the panel by NZQA CEO and former Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM, and local government and engineering expert, Anthony Wilson.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule welcomed the inquiry, saying he was impressed with the quality of those involved, and comfortable with its timeframes - which will report back by March 31 next year.

"The thing we need to remember is while this has been harrowing for 5000 people, and a crisis for Havelock North ... it is significant nationally, and even internationally," he said.

Mr Yule said he thought the inquiry covered every aspect of the situation including how council, and the HBDHB had operated. "I think it's pretty wide-ranging and I'm comfortable with the approach," he said.

Mayoral candidate Guy Wellwood said, knowing Justice Stevens, "he will do a very thorough job. He's also had prosecution experience, so he will sift out the facts somehow".

It would be good to get answers, he said, adding he was very interested in the inquiry's focus on how to reduce the risk of similar outbreaks occurring in future.

Fellow candidate Adrienne Pierce said it was great to know the inquiry was getting underway.


"I think we're all surprised we don't have answers on how this happened, and we're going into week five since the contamination," she said. She hoped the communication from the council, and DHB was addressed.

Tukituki MP Craig Foss said he was pleased to see progress had been made on the inquiry.

"While the boil notice has been lifted and things are returning to normal, there are still many unanswered questions," he said. "This Government-initiated inquiry, alongside other inquiries by local authorities, must get to the bottom of this."

The terms of reference state the inquiry would report on, and make recommendations on a number of matters - including the cause of the outbreak and whether any person or organisation was at fault or failed to meet required standards, the adequacy of the management of drinking water supplies for Havelock North, and any changes or additions to operational practices for the monitoring or testing of drinking water.

Havelock North resident Kerry Mackintosh who was struck down with Guillain-Barre syndrome last month, and is now also suffering from reactive arthritis, said it was very good the inquiry was starting.

Although "these things do take time", she was glad there would soon be answers around the cause of the contamination. Mrs Mackintosh hoped the inquiry would inquire into the Brookvale Bores due to their history, and the communication by the HBDHB.

The person admitted to hospital with Guillain-Barre Syndrome on Friday was said to be in a stable condition, and progressing well with the treatment she had received.

Hawke's Bay Hospital Physician Andrew Burns said the patient had diarrhoeal symptoms during the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in August.

He said Havelock North residents who experience pins and needles, weakness or clumsiness of hands or feet should seek medical help quickly.

"Early treatment of this condition can impact on the severity, so early diagnosis is important," he said.

People can call Healthline 24/7 free on 0800 611 116, contact your family doctor or visit after hours services to get a health professionals advice.