Topic: Water

Ten-year environmental plan for Hawke's Bay

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Cleaning up the environment in Hawke's Bay is the top focus of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's 10-year plan, a decade of work that chair of the council Rex Graham says can't be achieved without tangata whenua. 

"We've got to face up to the fact that for 150 years we have deforested our lands quicker than anybody else in the history of the world- we have over-farmed many of our regions".

"We have destroyed some rivers and creeks and estuaries, we've polluted practically all of them, certainly in Hawke's Bay.  We have a couple of rivers that aren't too bad, but Ahuriri Estuary is a total mess," says Graham.

The region has been plagued with water woes, unswimmable waterways and multiple high-level E. coli readings in drinking water over the years.

"The problem is that over the many years, from what I can see, is that the regional council hasn't had the environment at the forefront so now it's left for this generation to pay the price," says ratepayer Bayden Barber.

"Unequivocally water is a big issue back home both in terms of availability, its cleanliness, drinking water, storage of water [and] in terms of our local economy.  So when you talk in terms of long-term plan priorities for Hawke's Bay, it is definitely water," says Meka Whaitiri, MP for Ikaroa Rawhiti.

But fixing the problem doesn't come cheap and the money needs to come from a rates increase across the region of around $1 a week per property.

"It's nowhere enough to do the job.  We're going to borrow heavily against our balance sheet as well, so it's really a pittance that we are picking up.  The average rates increase is $50 a year," says Graham.

But Barber is hesitant, "To me, that will be a heavy burden for those that are not well-off or to those ones that can't afford the increase". 

There is a five-week consultation period and Graham says the council will be working closely with various Māori groups including an action group that comprises all marae along the Karamu Stream.