Despite the fact that the case for the $600 million CHB dam is being cleaved faster than a ‘Walking Dead’ zombie, the scheme crawls on.

At the last Regional Council meeting, councillors Wilson, Scott, Hewitt, Dick and Pipe voted another $500,000 for the project. This time ostensively for ‘geotechnical’ work that needed to be completed so that — if the scheme were approved by June — construction on the project could begin in the Spring. The funds were authorised despite the fact that MPI refused to award HBRIC the money because, as MPI saw it, the expenditure was not related to meeting the project’s ‘conditions precedent’. The Auditor General has been asked to look into this funding decision.

As councillor Beaven has strongly objected, approving this money violated the compact HBRC has made with its ratepayers — NO money to be spent to enable construction unless and until HBRC determines that all ‘conditions precedent’ have been satisfied. These conditions include pre-selling the requisite amount of water (this process has stalled) and recruiting institutional investors (whose identities HB Today is now speculating on*) who are satisfied that their conditions have been met.

So, with external parties not yet ready to pony up cash, HBRIC must return to HBRC for more funds each time the ‘financial close’ goal posts are moved. Before long, the current ‘deadline’ for the close will shift once again — from 31 March to, say, 30 June. Then you can be sure that HBRIC will be back again to HBRC, hat in hand, for funds to meet its roughly $250,000 monthly base spend. And perhaps even more money, if additional ‘preparatory’ work is needed to keep alive HBRIC’s dream of pouring concrete in September.

All of this manoeuvring presumes that the High Court sanctions the land swap essential to the project, which is under challenge by Forest & Bird. But in reality, either way the Court decides, the ‘losing’ party can pursue further strategies, which guarantees that the scheme will not finally clear all legal hurdles for months to come … at best.

Yet the zombie dam crawls on.

Perhaps only Dilbert can help us understand what keeps it alive.

Not selling sufficient water contracts?

Was the strategy sound in the first place?

Did HBRIC (or HBRC) learn from any mistakes they might have made?

Get the picture?

Tom Belford

*In this 9 February article, HB Today picks ACC, the NZ Super Fund, and “an Australian investor” as the likely investors.

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3 Comments

  1. Any possibility that scenarios of future potential situations can be presented to the Council and ADVANCE decisions be made how to proceed knowing costs etc rather than continuing to make decisions on an incremental basis?These scenarios should include the possibility of abandoning the scheme and writing off costs expended to date. This would mean that Council would then have identified a possible “exit strategy” which does not seem to be considered at any point to date as a possible decision option.

  2. I suspect the HB Today team could be onto something here! because from certain comments in society suggests that the “Gummint” is right in behind this Dammed Dam, so it makes sense that Govt associated heavy weights will get in behind it to help make sure it goes ahead.
    It sure as hell is a huge liability to own your own home in the World these day’s isn’t it, we have every Council unit ever invented lining up the Rate Payers as security for massive spends, Dams/rail lines/Hotels/Opera Houses/Velodrome/bus operators and so the list goes on, whatever happened to the good old standard’s where you saved up the money over time then went ahead and provided assets debt/interest free, why do we have to have these projects right now! at massive costs to the home owners!! why does Society have to operate on the huge!! borrowings of the money provider’s it is just not right….who would ever provide the HBRC/NCC/HDC with credit cards!!! what an example to Society they would be!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. The National Party is certainly right behind the Dam. The Primary Industries are where their support base is. They have faced criticism that they are not putting enough into supporting the “regions” and rural communities, which explains why they lost Northland. Craig Foss is struggling to maintain relevance with Havelock North voters, a National stronghold, and there is an election in 2017. They need something happening now. Oh, and punishing Napier leaseholders for voting Labour by selling their annual payments to ACC and investing the proceeds in the Dam just puts the icing on the cake!

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