You might recall that a handful of Ruantaniwha dam consent holders — Water Holdings HB — led by Tim Gilbertson owe $382,956 to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for the privilege.

They’ve staunchly resisted paying … for several years now. Try that with your HBRC rates and see what happens!

Previous Councillors at HBRC wanted the debt paid, and by resolution of 31 August 2022 had set a full payment deadline of 30 June 2023.

But it appears the current crew at HBRC have shamefully developed cold feet (or should I say, wet) on the matter. And I thought the HBRC was searching the cracks in the floorboards for lost cash.

When CHB advocacy group Wise Water Use HB recently approached HBRC Chair Hinewai Ormsby regarding the status of payment, she tossed the hot potato to CEO Dr Nic Peet. He responded:

1. As Chief Executive I hold the appropriate delegations to make the decision on potential remission of charges. I need to make the decision based on requests for remission received since Council’s resolution of August 2022. I note that the decision to be made will involve consideration of the application of s.36 of the Resource Management Act. 

2. There is no defined timeline. My intention is to make a robust decision in line with the Resource Management Act and to do that as soon as practicable. 

3. The amount remitted, if any, will be public information. 

Although the Water Barons now peddle the claim that the case for building the (at the time a mere $300 million) Ruataniwha Dam is stronger than ever, they don’t seem able to muster the cash to pay their $382,956 consent bill.

Here’s Wise Water Use’s animated account of where the buck should stop.


If you’re not on social media, you can view here.


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  1. I feel for the framers involved, these are consents that have never been used. The council invested a lot of ratepayer money in a dam that most likely wouldn’t have survived the last cyclone as it only had a single spillway. I see Bay Buzz got 88k from the gov’t journalist fund, perhaps the farmers should be given a pass too.

  2. Our new member of parliament seems to favour the barons but has not suggested that they pay their outstanding debts

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