Georgia Beal has been battling chronic pain and illness for a year from what her family believe is a result of swimming in contaminated water at Napier's Pandora Pond.

The 12-year-old's health has never been the same since a school excursion to the popular swimming spot near the end of February, 2018.

But after countless doctors' visits and sick days off from school, no diagnosis has been settled on.

Her mother, Ali Beal is demanding answers - "angry, tired and frustrated" at the situation.


The pond was shut to swimmers later on the very afternoon Georgia had swum in the pond, after a high bacterial reading of 475 enterococci (bacteria) per 100 millilitres of water - above the safe swimming limit of 280.

No other pupils have reported that they are suffering from the same, prolonged effects.

But Ali remains adamant the cause lies in the pond, which is now classified as a "moderate" risk to swimmers by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.

Ali first noticed something was wrong three days after Georgia's swim.

Ali Beal says her daughter Georgia, 12, was left with abdominal migraines after the swim. Photo / Paul Taylor
Ali Beal says her daughter Georgia, 12, was left with abdominal migraines after the swim. Photo / Paul Taylor

"We then went into two months of chronic diarrhoea that never existed before," Ali said.

Late last year, she emailed Napier City Council, Hawke's Bay Regional Council and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board calling for a comprehensive review into the contamination.

When she had a meeting in November, the first question she was asked was "do you accept that it is not the water's fault?," Beal claims.

"I just don't. The water is sick and my kid ingested it. Whether we are predisposed to irritable bowels ... whatever is in that water exasperated whatever is happening inside her system."


In October, a paediatrician gave a partial diagnosis of abdominal migraines. They are now in "limbo" waiting for an endoscopy and a colonoscopy in March.

A third stool sample indicating Georgia's digestive system was "greatly inflamed" was the catalyst.

"It is really frustrating. This isn't what Georgia is like. She was energetic, fun and would try anything, but now she won't because she is too tired or she feels sick and her confidence has taken a huge knock."

Beal wants a complete review of the testing protocol, procedures, alert systems and actions which are used to deal with contamination events. Furthermore, she wants the "sick" estuary to be cleaned up.

"For me, I need to see that those governing bodies are working together to fix and come up with solutions ... regional council have been testing for 15 years and they haven't done anything."

"If we don't fix this, more kids are going to get sick and I don't want another family to go through this."

A Hawke's Bay Regional Council spokesperson said it had been trialling a new monitoring system in Pandora Pond that has the potential to provide water quality results within 20 minutes, rather than the usual two-day wait.

Pandora Pond was officially declared safe for swimming again in January this year.
Pandora Pond was officially declared safe for swimming again in January this year.

"We are looking at how this would fit with the national guidelines that we must adhere to.

"We have been trialling it since mid-January and hope to know soon whether this system will work for Pandora Pond."

The trial came about because of a number of results showing high levels of faecal contaminants in the pond recently.

The trial hadn't started as a direct result of Georgia's illness, the spokesperson said.

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said all patients who were referred to the gastroenterology team for further diagnostic services, such as colonoscopy and endoscopy, were prioritised based on urgency.

She said there was a wait time of four months, once people have been confirmed that they are on the waiting list, for the test they need to have done.

"We understand this can be a very stressful time for people as they wait for their procedure. However, we would like to reassure [people] that our gastroenterology team works very hard and is constantly rejigging its waiting lists to accommodate everyone it can, but it must prioritise those patients that need the service most.

"If the patient's condition has changed since her referral was sent to the service we encourage her to see her GP again and be urgently referred."

Napier City Council Infrastructure Services Director, Jon Kingsford said it was committed to spending $20.6m on stormwater improvements, and $25.7m on wastewater improvements over 10 years through their long-term plan.

"We have several staff solely dedicated to improving water quality related to the estuary. We've also carried out more monitoring than has ever been done."