Last week, charges continued to fly in Parliament regarding professional staff of both DOC and the Ministry of Primary Industries muzzled in their attempts to submit serious concerns about the HBRC’s proposed $600 million dam. Then the suppression issue shifted closer to home as the week closed.

It was alleged that consultants at GNS Science (Geological and Nuclear Science, a Crown Research Institute) were approached by HBRC to conduct further hydrological assessment of the Ruataniwha water system. They first balked at the assignment (questioning the accuracy of HBRC’s existing modeling work), were then pressured by the HBRC, and ultimately submitted their report with significant reservations and disclaimers.

At first, as reported by HB Today, HBRC resource manager Iain Maxwell denied any irregularity: “He said the council had no knowledge of any allegation by scientists raising concerns about the catchment proposal or ‘placement of pressure by council to that effect’.”

Subsequently, as the heat was turned up, HBRC issued this evasive statement:

“Hawkes Bay Regional Council has fielded a number of media enquiries seeking its response to allegations that have been made in Parliament about various matters pertaining to Tukituki Plan Change 6 and the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC is an applicant in the current Board of Inquiry process considering these matters. The Board of Inquiry has been specifically set up to ensure that all the evidence is robustly and independently considered.

We will respond formally through the Board of Inquiry process once we have received the submitters’ evidence.”

Of course, the issue raised goes well beyond any examination of evidence actually submitted by HBRC; rather, the question is whether HBRC has in fact presented the final and full assessments of GNI to the Board of Inquiry. The BOI cannot evaluate what it doesn’t have.

And of course, any BOI review of the work being challenged will safely follow election day.

Despite this dodge — indeed, undermined by it — the credibility of HBRC, HBRIC and their ‘case’ for the dam diminishes day by day.

But having let the meltdown get this far, our incumbent regional councillors can now only pray that more cats don’t escape from the bag before all ballots are cast.

What a way to build public confidence in a $600 million investment!

Tom Belford

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  1. My take on this dam issue is that there were some people who saw the opportunity to get their nose in a very large trough. Some of them were on the regional council. Where it all went wrong for them is they assumed Joe average public would not notice their machinations, they could ram it through all the various consent processes and no one would be the wiser. It didn’t work. They were the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, bumbling, fumbling amateurs playing in a big money world (which attracts big public attention) If they had gone out and hired professionals to manage the selling of this dubious scheme right at the start they may have got away with it but it hasn’t quite worked out like that has it?

  2. Thank God you have the time and can understand the processes at work ( underhanded underminded underestimated) by HBRC and their cohorts. As a village dweller at the mouth of the Tukituki river I certainly do not want to watch the river diminish in health and vitality and eventually turn obviously toxic, it’s purity already massively in question.
    The increased chemicals being applied to the land for more intensive farming both agriculture and horticulture needs to be questioned in terms of the effect on the human consumption.
    Yes all this rain runs out to sea and I can understand the concept of storing water to use before that happens but there must be a better way. Maybe smaller dams to catch rainfall and back up from the main waterways if and when they get too low. My main concern though is to change farming practises that work in with our changing climate not try to out run the race.
    Many thanks again for your continual hard work.

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