In recent days, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council announced a new chunk of money to finally determine the feasibility of expanding an existing private lake to provide greater water security for depleted streams in the Bridge Pa area, ultimately feeding into the Karamu Stream.

The first beneficiary of such a scheme would be the environment — at the moment, as in other very dry periods, these streams run dry.

I’m thrilled that HBRC has secured another $5m to explore this option (the project was actually a key driver of a previous PGF award of some $14m from the first Ardern Government to explore precisely such options on the Heretaunga Plains), but I’m frustrated as hell that the project hasn’t already been completed.

The concept was initially developed at his own expense by owner of the lake, Mike Glazebrook, and was first mooted during the TANK process. At the time, all the relevant parties in the TANK process — environmentalists, Māori, water users, council planners — visited the site, heard the case, kicked the tyres and, it appeared, were positively inclined toward it.

This water harvesting scheme was seen as a complement to the proposed TANK plan, which — if it ever comes to pass — would prohibit dams on the Ngaruroro and Tutaekuri Rivers and four of their key tributaries, as well as codify the current voluntary ban on any new water extraction from the Heretaunga aquifer. Sound in substance and sound politically.

Then the TANK process stalled out, with prospects for actually doing something to improve the environment in a timely way blocked in HBRC’s Regional Planning Committee. Who have been the victims … the streams and the local tangata whenua.

Here’s a short video I participated in back in September 2019 illustrating the project.

I think it’s a damn shame that we’re still going to need to spend another $1.3m to determine the ‘feasibility’ of this win/win project. It was a great idea in 2019; in 2021 it will re-emerge as an even better idea, but shamefully overdue.

Would love to hear what you think.

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4 Comments

  1. Seems a no-brainer to me, but what is not clear, Tom, is why the process actually stalled. What were the reasons for the HBRC Regional Planning Committee blocking progress?

    1. Hi Marilyn, Maori members of the RPC — completely fresh to the issues — insisted on reviewing & challenging all the several years of work the TANK process had devoted to understanding the issues and balancing the competing interests. So, with TANK having made its recommendations and gone out of business, the whole process stalled for the last 2+ years. Submissions on TANK finally being heard in May. All further complicated by the Water Conservation Order sought for the Ngaruroro River, a total distraction from my standpoint, which with $1m+ spent by HBRC, has also gone into slow motion, interrupted by pandemic.

  2. Banning dams that store and release flood waters is a fundamentalist attitude and a huge mistake. We live in an altered environment that will never be natural again. Flood waters that flow angrily to sea can be stored efficiently and be used for both human and nature’s causes. It is all about the management thereof that determines their success. An Environmental Impact Assessment is not a unitary subject and is imperative to both nature and humanity.

  3. Says on the Korongata Marae website.
    Originally the marae land was a swamp that would easily flood during the wet season. Over the years the swamp has been drained and filled with land fill.

    Looks like purposefully been dried out over decades. Also, floods majorly in winter still.

    Definitely a stream, not a river. Vineyards definitely shouldn’t be drawing water from it though. No need to. They all should just use their bores.

    Been dry everywhere for last 5 years in hawkes bay. No rain anytime in summer.

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