Topic: Water

Popular swimming hole contamination still unknown

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Mana whenua of Pandora Pond in Ahuriri are searching for answers to the source of heavy bacteria that has contaminated the popular swimming hole.

It's contamination that one mother says is the likely cause of her 11-year-old daughter's illness.

Pandora Pond has been a no-go zone for almost three weeks and mana whenua are worried.

"Some of the actions we'd like to see on a catchment scale are prioritising water quality and taking it seriously," says Te Kaha Hawaikirangi o Ngā Hapū o Tutaekuri.

Ngā hapū o Tutaekuri are one of seven mana whenua within Whanganui a Orotū and are working with local councils to identify the contaminants.

"What we're concentrating on is that, when those sample results come back and identify the source, that there are appropriate actions to fix it in the long term," says Hawaikirangi.

But the first swim warning issued on 21 Feb came too late for Ali Beal and her 11-year-old daughter, who was on a school trip that day and fell ill shortly after.

"She had diahorrea for about 8-10 days, stomach cramps, nausea and she was just pale and unhappy and tired," she says.

The Hawke's Bay DHB have had one referral from a GP, and say they've followed up number of people but none of them have been definitively linked to the pond contamination.

"It's a huge coincidence when several of her classmates were sick and two days after I know that one child was off spewing for the day.  It's not right and I've not had any contact from the DHB over my case," says Beal.

Since 1st Jan 2016 the pond bacteria has exceeded safe levels three times and the DHB says they've undergone extensive sampling this time around to find the source.