The group initially formed to fight the prospect of a irrigation dam being built on the Mangatarere River is pressing ahead with its opposition to a dam despite having achieved what it first set out to do.

Dam Free Mangatarere chairman Michael Woodcock said yesterday the incorporated society's committee has had its first meeting for this year and is "committed to public debate about the proposed irrigation scheme and water quality firmly on the radar".

Although the Mangatarere is off the proposed dam site list, the Black Creek and Tividale sites are still live options to irrigate up to another 30,000 ha of Wairarapa farm land.

"Our group was at times written off as being a NIMBY (not in my backyard) group -- that view has always been false. We have always been concerned about the Wairarapa Water Use Project (WWUP) large scale dam-based irrigation scheme and the impact the resulting intensification will have on the Ruamahanga catchment in total," Mr Woodcock said.


He said with local body elections this year and public discussion on the best regional council options, "making sure there is a voice prepared to question the state of our Awa, our waterways, is critical."

"We are hearing from people now who are just starting to realise that if the scheme goes ahead there is going to be hundreds of kilometres of either pipes or an open channel like they use in the South Island cutting through rural properties whether they want the water or not.

"We have support to make a video about the hidden state of the Ruamahanga and plan to release video and photos of how the river looks, parts that most people never get to see.

"The propaganda we hear that she's in good condition needs to be exposed. This will include the hundreds of metres of riverbed the regional council sanctions to be crossed bladed every summer, destroying the ecosystem in that stretch of river and making it an ugly drainage ditch. All in the name of best practice," Mr Woodcock said.