Yesterday, John Buck, owner of Te Mata Estate Winery, asked Councillor Rex Graham to share this message with other Regional Councillors …

“The blog Whale Oil, currently the most widely read of New Zealand’s blogs, yesterday carried a colour photograph of human excrement being discharged from the Waipawa effluent ponds in to the Waipawa River. The accompanying text quotes a Steve Thrush who claims that despite making adjustments the plant is still meeting the conditions of its resource consent.

As the owner of a premium Hawke’s Bay consumable brand, exported to over 40 countries, I find such practices, which undermine our years of investment and hard hard work in a place we love to boast about, as compelling  evidence for the self-interest of vested community groups, and in this case also two of our Councils

Why are we even contemplating building a dam for the benefit of a few when we are not prepared to fix a sewerage system which undermines any quality message inherent in the regional brand which underlies the prosperity of our total community?

Is this our equivalent of Fonterra’s problems in China? Its human effluent, so please tell your fellow Councillors to delay the dam until they’ve fixed the sewerage and put the ratepayers money into that.

Marlborough claims it can farm Wasabi because it’s water is so pure. What can we claim? When the pictorial evidence and banal, arse-saving responses prove the contrary. Our competitors for the consumer dollars just love this.”

John Buck

Here’s the photo in question.

At last week’s HBRC Environment Committee meeting, I asked for staff to report on the CHB sewage management situation, given that the CHB District Council (CHBDC) must meet significantly stricter environmental standards later this year (as ordered several years ago by the Environment Court) and have deployed a new ‘floating wetlands’ system — of unproven capacity — to meet these standards.

Two simple questions: Is the system working or not? Is CHBDC on track to meet the tougher standards?

A full report was promised. So far, we’ve been told by HBRC staff only that CHBDC is meeting its current inadequate standards.

I suggest Mayor Peter Butler should quit beating up on Maori, Lawrence Yule, A Better Hawke’s Bay, and amalgamation, and forget about bleating for ratepayers throughout Hawke’s Bay to pay for his CHB dam, and instead get his CHBDC shit together. As John Buck writes, first things first.

Tom Belford

P.S. Here’s the statement HBRC Chairman Fenton Wilson made at the 29 January Council meeting regarding Butler’s remarks about Maori (you can view this portion of the meeting here, beginning at 1:30 into the meeting … unfortunately the Chairman’s remarks were not reported in the media):

“There’s been a lot of interest in…media interest in comments made by the mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay in recent days. I’d just like to take an opportunity to, you know for the record, state that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council does not agree with his sentiments and we see a lot of value in our relationship, and our ongoing relationship, with Chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and an opportunity to build on recent memorandums, Kaitiaki committees that have been formed to provide an overview for hapu and iwi on the Tukituki catchment in relation to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme should it go ahead and obviously plan change 6.  The comments are unfortunate. Obviously if the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme does go ahead there will be many jobs and we hope to see a resurgence of local population. We hope to see opportunities for all people of Hawke’s Bay to get employment and obviously the comments by Mayor Butler do not fit with that premise and obviously are not part of the thinking of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. So I just want to be clear on that as we go forward.”

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  1. Well done John Buck for articulating what so many of us think.
    Of course cleaning up the Tuki Tuki ( and all HB rivers for that matter) needs to be an urgent priority, possibly as part of a dam project, even though the cost/benefit figures quoted by the proponents of this dam look dodgy to many, especially when compared to the South Island project.
    If the council claims about water quality meeting standards are true, I wonder about the standards. I hope those making the claims won’t risk taking their families and friends for a swim in the river where that photo was taken.

  2. Very pleased to read that recent comment from Fenton Wilson. And thanks Tom for helping to publicise it. The last thing Hawke’s Bay needs in the 21st Century is race-based politics.

  3. John Buck has spoken for the vast majority–congratulations.
    It is great that the “gang of four” newly elected councillors are spreading much needed sunlight on the HBRC.
    The Napier “representatives” should hang their head in shame at their total inability to protect our region’s residents.
    Cannot wait for an amalgamated council so we can have a strong, intelligent and honest group to represent our best interests.
    Butler et al can then be ” retired ” along with our Napier seat warmers.

  4. Thanks to John Buck for taking the direct route and demanding something other than the usual ‘banal, arse-saving responses’ from HBRC and CHBDC on this utterly frustrating issue.

    Good on you for keeping us all in the loop Tom, it is greatly appreciated.

  5. I went Fish the Tuki Tuki with two Overseas visitors from Canada this week,what a complete mess the River has become , John Buck is right raise this issue its a complete disgrace all current and past HBRC and CHB Councils should hold there head in shame and be made drink and bath in the outfall .
    But this is only start if the Dam is approved unless there is a radical change of farm practices by keeping the polluters the ‘Cows’ off the land and in controllable sheds where discharge can be controlled, a strict control on land use, a Shit tax placed on the Dairy Industry help clean the mess, and limits on Nitrate & Phosphate, and suitable River flows the Tuki Tuki will be a dead river.
    I just returned from visit France , there are no Cows in the fields and run off is controlled , maybe this is why the Chinese are currently building a large milk powder factory in France , avoid buying from New Zealand .

  6. J J, not normally wrong, must of been under the influence of jet lag/ drugs-erroneously calling the H B R C Napier Councillors representatives!

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