Hun­dreds rally against wa­ter or­ders


Hun­dreds of peo­ple, and trac­tors, have turned out in Hawke’s Bay to protest against wa­ter qual­ity plans that some res­i­dents say could ‘‘ab­so­lutely dev­as­tate’’ the re­gion.

Hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists, ir­ri­ga­tors, their fam­i­lies, the peo­ple they em­ployed, iwi and politi­cians all made their way to Farn­don Park in Clive on Tues­day, with about 400 trac­tors driv­ing from the Hawke’s Bay Show­grounds in Hast­ings to the park.

They braved the cold and the rain to protest against a wa­ter con­ser­va­tion or­der (WCO) that’s to be con­sid­ered by a special tri­bunal.

Pro­test­ers were not just up­set by the po­ten­tial for a WCO on the Ngaruroro River, but about how a lo­cal process that has been un­der way for years ad­dress­ing how to man­age wa­ter qual­ity, flows and al­lo­ca­tion in the wider catch­ment area could be over­rid­den.

Speeches were made by grow­ers, coun­cil­lors, may­ors, and politi­cians, all pushing the same mes­sage: ‘‘Say no to the WCO.’’

Grower John Bo­s­tock said Hawke’s Bay wanted to make its own de­ci­sions, and the ex­ist­ing process, called TANK, in­volved the whole community – iwi, con­ser­va­tion groups, ir­ri­ga­tors, foresters and in­ter­ested pub­lic.

TANK stands for the catch- ment area be­ing looked at through the process, which in­cludes the Tu­taekuri, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro, and Karamu catch­ments, and the Here­taunga Plains aquifer sys­tem.

‘‘We might scrap against our­selves, but at the end of the day we don’t want to be dic­tated to from Welling­ton,’’ Bo­s­tock said.

Dur­ing speeches that senti- ment was echoed by Napier Mayor Bill Dal­ton, who said ev­ery now and then ‘‘Welling­ton rises up on its hind legs and tries to im­pose an un­rea­son­able con­di­tion upon Hawke’s Bay, when those de­ci­sions are much bet­ter made by the peo­ple of Hawke’s Bay.

‘‘We need to re­ject that, we need to tell them to go and get stuffed ... [and] tell Welling­ton to go to hell.’’

Bo­s­tock said if the WCO went ahead, it could be ‘‘to­tally dras­tic for Hawke’s Bay’’.

‘‘It would be ab­so­lutely dis­as­trous, you might as well turn the lights out. Fac­to­ries would close, ex­ports would stop, it would be a real dis­as­ter.’’

For­est & Bird was one of five or­gan­i­sa­tions mak­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion for the WCO, and chief ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Hague said such com­ments were ‘‘non­sense’’.

He said op­po­nents of the or­der were be­ing ‘‘alarmist’’, and the WCO would not change wa­ter rights that had been al­ready al­lo­cated from the river.

Hague said the cam­paign was ‘‘cyn­i­cal and ma­nip­u­la­tive’’.


Left and be­low, pro­test­ers at Farn­don Park in Clive. Above, the protest’s trac­tor con­voy. There are fears the wa­ter con­ser­va­tion or­der could im­pact the re­gion’s econ­omy, and em­ploy­ment.

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