Dodgy Socialist Dam rooted as Maori win in Environment Court

The Dodgy Socialist dam in Hawkes Day would appear to be rooted after a win in the Environment Court by Ngati Kahungunu;

The Environment Court has backed the contention of Ngati Kahungunu Inc that Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was trying to dilute water quality standards for the region’s aquifers.

It ordered the council to restore to an objective in the regional resource management plan that there should be no degradation of existing groundwater quality in the Heretaunga Plains and Ruataniwha Plains aquifer system.

The council argued the objective was impossible to achieve.

The court said to not attempt to at least maintain the quality of water abdicates the functions of a regional council.  

It rejected the council’s push for an “over’s and unders” approach, where declines in quality in one place could be tolerated if there were improvements elsewhere.

Ngati Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana says the case cost the iwi more than $100,000 to mount, but it had to ensure environmental standards were maintained.

The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council needed to increase the nutrient overhead so they could build the dam. In plain english they wanted to pollute the Tukituki River even more after the dam was built.

Ngati Kahungunu objected to that and said to the court that the HBRC should be improving the aquifers not degrading them. The Environment Court agreed.

The economic case for the dam is poked, more so now the dam costs have ballooned. Also the environmental case for the dam is now rooted.

Time to close the project down. It was ill-conceived, a complete waste of ratepayers money and a dogmatic council has lost every single case in multiple courts because of their dodgy plans for the dodgy socialist dam.


– Waatea


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  • Cadwallader

    Maori interests and environmentalism: It seems that in recent times a ruse has developed in the media and within academia that maori issues are routinely protective, and reflect sound environmental knowledge of NZ’s ecology. This ruse is unfounded in both science and recorded history. Pre-European inhabitation has left scars on the land as severe as any created by more recent developments. Who decided to accord maori with the status of environmental watch-dogs without seeking their credentials for this role?
    I have little interest in the Hawkes Bay dam proposal but isn’t it discordant that its development has been stayed by the actions of local iwi rather than by any other mechanism?

    • Mark156

      I think they’re the only group that can afford to mount a legal challenge.

      • biscuit barrel

        yes . The iwi havent used any special provisions to go to court, its open to anyone effected. of course the likely cost means its a no no for an individual.

        The previous unrestricted use of resources are why we have the rules now. And its the environmental court that is the watchdog, not the iwi.
        If their argument had no merit they would have lost.

      • Nyla

        aw but did it cost them anything … bet it didnt

    • Nyla

      they need to go back to pillaging the sea of their kai and everyone elses

  • Peter

    sound economic proposition being undermined by minority and special interest groups.

    • Rupert

      If it were a sound economic proposition, it wouldn’t need investment by local/regional government. If the numbers stacked up and it could be shown to have a sound return of investment, then no end of private investors would be lining up to fund it.

      The fact that they aren’t only goes to show that it’s not a sound investment and therefore is something the councils should be steering clear of also.

      • Peter

        numbers stack up for the farmers. Scheme costs them same as other schemes. The investment of the dam and reticulation is another matter. A long term investment like this needs long term investors – pension funds, govt etc. The scheme would likely have secured investors way sooner if there had not been so much opposition from minority and ‘special interest’ groups. Just sayin.

        • biscuit barrel

          And the ones in the SI? Built and subsidized by ratepayers ? Or did the users form their own company, with trade able shares which are now selling well above issue price.

          The Council has used farm consultants , who were paid by HBRC, to create rosy projections of increased production from irrigation bulk supply. And they did that by increasing bought in stock feed as well as increased grass growth from irrigation.

          The water price is way way to high for what the farmers want to pay. Its around 27c per m3 when it should be around 5-8c.

          • Peter

            Read my earlier post on this. The Ohura scheme you spoke of earlier as having 4c/m3 is not the whole picture as all that scheme does is store water and release to the river for uptake by other schemes. Ruataniwha is a storage AND delivery system, at pressure to the farm gate. Much different
            However the annual cost of using water from these schemes is around $1200/ha. Ruataniwha is no different from any other scheme as far as all up costs of water supply to farmers.

          • Peter

            There are no rosy projections. I myself have done feasibility studies and my findings independantly found that there is a real return for farmers. And also the returns are similar to trhose achieved on schemes such as Ohura/ LPIC. Its not rocket science by it is science.

          • Dave

            So, if the returns are that good, perhaps sell all your other assets and invest your own money in the scheme.

          • Peter

            Investing in the scheme itself – no – too long a pay back. I would need a return within 2-5 years not 25 to 50. However if I had a farm in the area I would definitely be buying water as the payback in building an irrigation system falls around 5 years..

          • Dave

            WOW, so your not in favor of it at all, and by your statement, only the local farmers can support it by investing in to, THEN by buying the water, but as its NOT a viable stand alone investment. Its stuffed, thanks for your clarification.

          • Peter

            sorry your comment makes no sense at all.
            If I was a farmer I would buy the water.
            If I was a long term investor such as a pension fund or local or central government I would invest in the scheme.
            Got it?

          • Dave

            Again, your missing the point completely. What you are in effect saying, is you wont invest your money in the scheme, but you expect others to fund it so you, as a farmer can get cheap water at the expense of all other water users downstream! The scheme sucks

          • Peter

            Under the RMA the water belongs to all New Zealanders. At the moment I can get a consent and pump it out of the ground or the rivers ‘for free’. The trouble is as a water user I then have to pump the water during the dry season, during the time that there is the most pressure on that water resource.
            The current situation in HB is the water resource has been ‘over’ allocated meaning the waterways are being damaged. Also there are people who don’t have water and could do with the water to reduce risk to their business from drought. It is a real problem for HB economy that almost completely depends on its primary industries for economic wealth. If there is a drought, everyone suffers, not just the farmers.
            One way to fix this is to capture a fraction of the winter flows and store it, then release it during summer. This fixes or reduces natural and man made environmental problems, and shares that water around those that are willing to pay for it. Not the word ‘pay for it’.
            Like any project the Ruataniwha scheme requires an investment. The return on that investment could be a short period of time or a long time, say 100 years. Ruataniwha has a long period for return on investment. There are entities that underwrite projects with a long ROI – pension funds, government, councils.
            When I compare this scheme to others, the farmer will be paying much the same for his water. It is not ‘cheap’ water.

          • Yes but you sell irrigation systems. Sorry but you have a vested interest…all I want is a clean and improved river.

          • Peter

            All I want is a clean and improved environment – and a thriving local economy.
            We need to stop taking water during the dry season from the aquifers and rivers. Thiose waterways under under enormous pressure during the dry season.
            We need to correct some serious over allocation issues where all the water is held in the hands of a few. We need to share the water around more and make better use of that water.
            To do this we need to hold back a very small percentage of the winter water flows and store that water until the dry season. Then in the dry season we should release that water for those who need or want it. In that way water users wont need to take the water from aquifers and streams that are under the most pressure during the dry season. That scheme is called the Ruataniwha project.

          • Except the stated goals won’t work. The required flows in summer would be less and the Tukituki would be turned toxic which is why the Maori won the case in the Environment court.

          • Peter

            Yes vested interest. And yes an irrigation company – but then it also follows I should know what I’m talking about.
            This isn’t a hunting block of your is it??

          • Except you don’t because you are stating that the project is a brilliant economic miracle.

            If it is so brilliant then how come institutional investors aren’t signing up, and how come farmers aren’t either?

            Because the economic case for the dam was stuffed in the first place and now with the cost blow out stuffed even more. Your cargo cult build it and they will come mentality is alarming.

        • They don’t stack up for farmers…if they did the signups would have been completed already not have deadlines extended 7 times. The latest proposals from HBRIC have had a massive price increase in water too, so some of the early adopters are now thinking of pulling the pin.

    • If it was so sound why haven’t farmers flocked to sign up? Why is HBRIC now relying on Waipukurau and Waipawa switching from free water they use currently to stored water they will charge for? Simple really because the numbers don’t work.

      You are just pissy about it because you company would stand to gain by providing irrigation systems to farmers. Be honest in your commenting.

      • Peter

        Because they want water users to stop taking water from the aquifers and waterways during the dry season. During the dry season they are literally sucking the aquifers and waterways dry.
        They need a storage system. If its not Ruatanipha, then it will need to be something else.
        Not pissy thanks. I don’t live in Hawkes Bay any more and I’m unlikely to gain much from the scheme.It would just be good to see the region get ahead as it is currently an economic back water, literally held back from a lack of water.

      • Peter

        They are not signing up because of all of the misinformation and unsureity created by the lobbying of minority and special interest groups who have a vested or misinformed interest in stopping the scheme.
        It doesn’t help that a lot of HB farmers have a mistrust of outsiders, and are pretty risk averse. It is not an easy area to farm, unless you have water.

  • Abjv

    Maybe National needs to promote a dam on Raoul, to get Maori to support conservation around the Kermadecs?

  • newzeal

    A lot of the momentum behind the dam was to bring dairy farming to regions otherwise not suited. This was back in the day when dairy was gold. Now the shine has gone off dairy so that momentum is lost. Regional Council exec said: “a third of the water will be used for dairy farming.” Hawkes Bay is simply too dry for dairy.

    • biscuit barrel

      A third? And what other use would use the 2/3. The reality of farm lending is that it would be mostly dairying with the rest being the local towns paying for dam water piped a long way when they have river water on their doorstep now.

      • Peter

        Well irrigation for sheep& beef will certainly yield a return on investment. And so will cropping. And Hort. In fact if you can grow it in HB irrigation will yield a return on investment.
        In particular with Hort, irrigation using this scheme will provide a guarantee of return making it more viable to grow higher value crops than maize and peas.

    • Peter

      Not sure why people keep associating dairy with this scheme. Dairy was always only a small part of this scheme. HB is a growing region for crops, pipfruit, stonefruit, sheep and beef,…and dairy.

      • Nyla

        yes totally agree …. crops suffer badly because theyre not allowed to water them … ok so what is the land good for without that dam …. sweet fanny all … well done maori … didnt they give you enough koha !!!

        • The Maori case had merit, in that they said the Council had a duty of care to improve waterways not de-grade them…which is what the plan would do…degrade the waterways,

      • Because the pitch from HBRIC was to dairy intensification and the basis upon which the business case was predicated. It also pre-supposed the price for milk solids was over $6.50. That ship sales a year ago.

        • Peter

          Ah no. The pitch is for Pastoral farming, being 2,000 out of 3,000 primary agricultural businesses in HB The majority of the pastoral businesses are sheep and beef. There has never been much dairy ( although I would expect more dairy as the market corrects itself).
          I would expect cropping to increase myself as there are some big growers down there that would use that water when available. And use it on higher yielding crops.
          Of all the farmers I have spoken to over the last two years only one has been dairy, the rest have been sheep&beef or croppers.

          • biscuit barrel

            Central Plains Water’s massive irrigation scheme will be the final death knell of sheep on the central Canterbury Plains as farmers switch to higher returning alternatives such as dairy to cover its cost.

            You are smart man Peter , dont take us for fools.

          • biscuit barrel

            “CPW chairman Doug Catherwood said its annual $700/ha water charge was about the same as the gross income of a dryland sheep and beef property.
            “At $700/ha, the annual water charge is half that of Ruataniwha’s (proposed water storage scheme in Hawke’s Bay).

            Please enough of the bulls*it about alternative beef sheep farming

          • Peter

            Ok so what is the income of an irrigated sheep and beef farm. A lot more than a dryland one is the answer.
            The basic income multiplier is 2.4 x irrigation cost (Ohura/LPIC scheme,a nd also my calculation). Ruataniwha water cost is $1200/ha/year, therefore income on pastoral system is about $2.9k/ha/year.

          • Peter

            At cost of $1200/ha/year they can make money in Pastoral faming including sheep&beef.

        • Peter

          And it will be back. John Key said it would be, and Angry said Dairy was stuffed so that is a double definite that Dairy will be back up there.

      • biscuit barrel

        So theres a hard limit of dairy conversion then. Say 35% which gives a max limit to the pollution as cows are the worst. Sheep are there now so dont need high cost irrigation.

        I be the HBDC hasnt set a fixed amount for dairy conversion, would scare off even more farmers

        • Peter

          Don’t think they care actually, provided the activity observes the nutrient budget constraints.