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.