I suppose we should be gratified that so many people seem at last to be climbing aboard the Tukituki clean-up cause.

The list even includes Hastings Council candidates and HDC refugees like Cynthia Bowers, whose husband, Ewan McGregor, during his terms on the Regional Council, used to measure the safety and quality of the water by the fact that he could see his toes in the water.

Hopefully the photos I’m showing you below will arouse even more people! Please pass them along with this post.

I would just ask all those candidates out there marching and posturing lately, where have you been the last ten years, when others have been battling to ‘call the question’ on the miserable state of the Tuki? It’s a shame that it’s taken devastating water-borne illness in Havelock to rouse more people from their complacency about the safety and quality of our waterways and aquifers.

Now, back to the Tuki.

Basically, a bunch of farmers in CHB have been using the Tuki as a convenient drain for their cows’ effluent. [This on top of the CHB Council using the river as a convenient outlet for its wastewater overflow.]

This is not merely the occasional dozen cows strolling down to the water for a drink and poo … a scene we’ve photographed and shown you on BayBuzz several times over the years.

More significantly, I’m talking about run-off from feedlots that service hundreds of cows at a time. The daily ‘output’ of 1,000 of these cows would exceed that of the entire population of Central Hawke’s Bay!

The photos below show the close proximity of some CHB feedlots to the Tukituki. In winter conditions especially, there can be no doubt that the poo and urine of these beasts gets washed into the river. The bottom photo shows a typical path.

The ‘regulation’ of these feedlots, such as it is (some require no consents at all), is far too passive.

I can tell you with certainty, if regional councillors Barker, Beaven, Graham and myself had enjoyed the company of just ONE additional councillor over the past term who genuinely gave a hoot about the Tuki, you would be seeing action on this situation by now.

Photos below.

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. This is a disgrace. If those with the authority to stop this did not know about
    it they are incompetent and have not done their job. They have been asleep at the
    wheel and probably should resign (elected or employed, they should do the decent
    thing) If they did know about it and obviously done nothing they have failed to represent community health and safety and their negligence is very close to a criminal liability case.
    Yes, if Belford, Barker, Beaven, and Graham plus 1 more councillor of good character and sound mind can be re-elected we should see an end to this. I hope so anyway.

  2. “Cattle” instead of cows would be a better general description because in many cases it is not dairy cows but beef cattle on finishing property’s that are on these feedlots. There’s lots of feedlots scattered across the region and even if they are not directly next to a river they still readily leach into our waterways. Even without formal feedlots some farmers still let their cattle have ready access to waterways while grazing crops and pasture. Alarmingly the “Overseer” nutrient modelling software that will in most cases be used to model the regions nutrient leaching for Plan Change 6 can not take into consideration surface nutrient and sediment runoff but instead relies on farmers to apply best practice to mitigate these losses, ….
    “YEAH RIGHT” ! …. It will be a case of the law abiding and those with a moral compass doing the right thing but for the others they will go on their own bloody merry way because I cant see the council having the resources, balls and will to deal with it.
    Thankfully the spotlight is finally being shone on the poor state of our rivers and some of our other leaders need to get their priorities right and get involved as I am sure our image and reputation would be better served by a clean and safe environment instead of some grandiose velodrome or opera house.

    1. Cattle, cows, the stuff that comes out of the rear end is the same, what this demonstrates is that we would be very foolish to keep pursuing this push to intensification, that our land can cope with very little of it, regardless of what it is. In the last few days we have had the Pahiatua council issuing a boil water notice after e coli was detected in their water. Anyone who knows that area, knows what is the major farming industry there.

  3. Kia ora koutou, you would do well to join forces with the local Iwi Ngati Kahungunu, and their two regional entities or taiwhenua, Heretaunga and Tamatea who are in the process of settling historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. As part of those settlements those regions will have new relationships agreements with all government departments with significant ability to influence/direct decision making in the Hawkes Bay. Add to that the fact the Iwi are naturally the most motivated and longterm thinkers when it comes to the health of the environment and you could all get together and apply your collective influence, energy and resources to the problem. The potential is encouraging and the shape of HB in 5 years time will be very different to what it currently is. Something for us all to consider.

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