Parting swipe at dam
CHB farmer Will Foley took a parting swipe at opponents of the Ruataniwha Dam, saying he hoped the controversial canned project would soon be picked up by new interests, as he bowed out as Hawke’s Bay president of Federated Farmers this month.
In his last annual report before handing over to new president Jim Galloway, Mr Foley told the Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers annual meeting in Hastings that “without doubt” the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (RWSS) put on the backburner by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council had been the defining issue of his five years in the chair.
“It has been disappointing and frustrating to see the way it has come to a halt during this last year. The current regional council obviously has no appetite for the scheme and the sooner the current assets and IP [intellectual property] around the project can be sold off the better so as to allow a far better promoter to see what can be salvaged.”
From Takapau, Foley said he had enjoyed the challenge of the scale of the project from a Feds’ point of view.
“I got to know and deal with highly motivated, enthusiastic and passionate people who truly believe in a better and more prosperous Hawke’s Bay.”
Some who spoke out against Ruataniwha gained his respect and were worthy of a debate, Mr Foley said.
“There are others who just disregard facts and reason simply to stop change. The hypocrisy is one thing I won’t miss.”
He was critical of the new Labour-led Government for what he called a negative tone around irrigation.
“It will take a lot of advocacy from Feds to continue to push the merits of irrigation and allow our members access to a potentially critical tool going forward with climate change and our export-led economy,” he said.
The new president is steeling himself for the challenges, having been a member of Federated Farmers for about 18 years before stepping up about seven years ago out of concern about the impacts of Manawatu¯ -Wanganui’s Horizons Regional Council’s One Plan resource management document. He has served as the Federated Farmers Tararua dairy chairman.
He said he will be trying to head off issues before they blow up into a major, keeping an eye on who could potentially buy the intellectual property of the RWSS the ramifications of the Tukituki River catchment’s Plan Change 6 and the nutrient limit and water allocation strands of the TANK process.
The province’s new president was born in Hastings, grew up on a farm in southern Hawke’s Bay, completed an agricultural science degree at Massey and worked as a fertiliser consultant for nine years before starting to work the land himself, near Eketa¯ huna.
With wife Lynette he now runs a 54ha sheep and beef farm off Raukawa Rd near Hastings, and also works on other farms in the area.
While supporting Mr Galloway in settling into the top role, Mr Foley said he planned to look after CHB’s interests.
New Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay president Jim Galloway (left) and Takapau’s Will Foley, who stood down after five years in the role.