Hawke’s Bay Region

Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson is going to learn what utu means

The new Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was sworn in yesterday and they have a new chairman after Fenton Wilson discovered the Ruataniwha dam wasn’t really an election winner after all.

Rex Graham has been elected as the new chairman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Rick Barker was voted in as deputy.

This morning, the council’s nine elected regional councillors were sworn in at the inaugural council meeting.

A large crowd gathered at the council’s Napier’s offices where Mr Graham was elected unopposed.

After being nominated by former chairman Fenton Wilson and seconded by Mr Barker, Mr Graham received a unanimous vote.

Mr Barker was nominated by councillor Alan Dick and seconded by councillor Neil Kirton, and was also elected unanimously.

Read more »

Will the HBRC cut funding to the Dodgy Socialist Dam?

Chairman Fenton ?Jong-un? Wilson reckons the dodgy socialist dam can?t be stopped.

[T]he council?s acting chairman Fenton Wilson said regardless of how any new councillors viewed the project, there was little any new council body could do until the critical Supreme Court case now in play was resolved.

That concerned the land swap where 22ha of Department of Conservation land on the dam site was being exchanged for 170ha of private land.

The Court of Appeal overturned a decision allowing that to happen and DOC and the Hawke?s Bay Regional Investment Company were appealing against that decision in the Supreme Court.

An outcome of that decision was not expected until next year.

?The Supreme Court decision has a very wide-ranging impact, not only upon the dam project but for other DOC land swaps proposed around the country.

?That includes the relocation of Franz Joseph village due to natural hazards ? it can?t happen without approval on that land.?

Wilson dismissed any talk about the election result requiring a moratorium on the dam?s construction.

?The decision had already been made by the council and we have a large institutional investor waiting in the wings for the court case to be resolved. The dam had been dealt with prior to the election.?

Read more »

Fenton ‘Jong-un’ Wilson still living in a parallel universe


Kim Jong-un might be able to re-write history but Fenton Wilson can’t.

He’s trying, though.

A post-election power shift on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has put another question mark over the controversial Ruataniwha dam project.

But there will be little evidence of the political shake-up when the council gets back together in unusual circumstances this week.

In a rare move, councillors who held office before the weekend have been called to a meeting on Thursday to complete unfinished business.

Two newly?elected politicians will not take part in the meeting ? to sign off the council’s 2015-16 annual report ? because it is being held before their election wins become official.

The meeting was planned last month when the then-sitting councillors agreed they should be the ones to signoff on the past year’s report.

Their approval of the document was delayed when Audit NZ queried the council’s recording of “intangible” assets on its books related to the Ruataniwha water storage scheme.

Read more »

HB Today editorial has a message for Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson

Fenton Wilson thinks the dam is still on, but the editorial in the HB Today points out a few salient facts?about the political reality that he would do well to heed.

One thing about ratepayers is that when they get agitated about a particular issue, they use the next available election to make a statement.

Thus, it can be argued that voters in the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council elections, particularly the Napier and Hastings wards, have voted emphatically against the proposed Ruataniwha Dam.

The dam proposal, driven by council officials, was mostly given a green light by a 5-4 majority in favour on the old council. Chairman Fenton Wilson, deputy chair Christine Scott, Napier councillors Alan Dick and Dave Pipe and Central Hawke’s Bay representative Debbie Hewitt ensured that as many boxes as possible were ticked.

The anti-dam councillors, Rex Graham, Peter Beaven, Tom Belford and Rick Barker were always going to be on the losing side.

But, there seems to have been a groundswell building in Napier and Hastings. Increasingly this newspaper started hearing about normally conservative, pro-establishment residents of Napier being strongly opposed to the dam being built.

Some of them were retired accountants, CFOs and businessmen who had done the sums on the back of an envelope and decided that the financial case for the dam did not stack up.

Paul Bailey, until recently a Green Party office holder and avowed anti-dam campaigner, put himself up for election again, having been thumped in the elections three years ago.

This time he has found himself, along with incumbent Alan Dick and former councillor Neil Kirton, elected to the council. Mr Pipe and Ms Scott had not stood for re-election so there were two vacant seats.

Read more »

Mike Williams on the stupidity of Peter Butler

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams has been having a blinder these past few weeks.

Of course, he has been helped by the stupidity of Hawkes Bay local body candidates or outgoing mayors.

It’s obvious that the retiring Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Peter Butler, doesn’t read my weekly musings in Hawke’s Bay Today.

Had he bothered to do so he would have known that a powerful factor in local election success is name recognition.

Not long ago there was reference to the fact that when voters are confronted with long lists of candidates they will very often opt for a name they know.

Peter Butler’s attempt to make sitting regional councillor Tom Belford reveal his email and telephone records for a 17day period last month amounts to a timely and very valuable gift to Councillor Belford.

It put him on the front page of Hawke’s Bay Today just when the Hawke’s Bay electors are filling in their voting papers.

It’s hard to comprehend what possessed Mayor Butler.

His “official request” for Tom Belford’s telephone and email traffic was never going to be fulfilled before the local polls closed and even if this showed Mr Belford communicated with all of the people and organisations on Butler’s list, who cares?

It would only demonstrate that Councillor Belford was doing his job.

Peter Butler would not comment on why he had requested the information. We can only suppose that he’s a secret supporter of Tom Belford.

The Hawke’s Bay local elections are more interesting than those going on in Auckland.

Read more »

Fat Tony on fire again


Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is on fire again:

By now Hawke’s Bay residents and ratepayers who have enrolled to vote in time will have their local election voting papers, though statistically not many will have yet ticked the boxes and posted their votes back.

From a distance (and relying on the chatter of friends and relatives) it looks like the big issue in Hawke’s Bay is water; whether it’s the Ruataniwha dam, contaminated drinking water in Havelock North or the bottled water giveaway.

I note at least one Regional Council hopeful backing off support for water bottlers at great speed and Hawke’s Bay Today reminding its readers about just who did endorse this giveaway with a not-very-old photograph.

As a political organiser I was involved in many local election campaigns in New Zealand and Australia. Seldom were serious issues like Hawke’s Bay’s water involved in these contests and very often they were just good fun.


[…] ?? Read more »

Dodgy Socialist Dam having its dodgy numbers reviewed

The dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council is really trying hard to ram their dodgy dam through before the council makeup changes.

Finally, the council is getting an independent auditor to look at their dodgy numbers, but already there appears to be a $2 million hole to fill.

The Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme’s financial viability will be re-examined by independent auditors after concerns were raised by some Hawke’s Bay Regional councillors last week.

Following an extraordinary Hawke’s Bay Regional council meeting on Friday, council authorised a drawdown of $80million, less development costs, for investment in the scheme.

Council had agreed that three of four conditions required before investment could proceed had been met, and an independent financial review from auditors Deloittes supported the content and conclusions of the business case as being robust.

However yesterday, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council chairman Fenton Wilson confirmed Deloittes will be re-checking the figures provided by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC). ? Read more »

Fat Tony is on fire

Mike Williams, affectionately known as "Fat Tony"

Mike Williams, affectionately known as “Fat Tony”

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is on fire. His latest column in the HB Today is about holding the ratbags in the Hawkes Bay to account these elections.

It looks like the Hawke’s Bay water contamination scandal and the proposed Ruataniwha dam scheme have morphed into one issue in many people’s minds and will influence the outcome of the local elections.

The revelation that unconsented feedlots with unknown numbers of livestock have been established along our rivers is enough to make a mockery of the desperate attempts of dam supporters and irrigation fanatics to convince us that cows can’t be responsible for the gastro bug that afflicted so many.

Those who have developed an interest in the dam plan, whether for or against, should take the time to read the Court of Appeal decision that has stopped the scheme in its tracks. This decision is easily accessible and can be found as the last published decision in August this year on the Court of Appeal website.

The full title of the decision is “Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated v Minister of Conservation”.

The legal background to this action comes from the basic design of the dam which, to be financially viable, must flood two pieces of land amounting to 22 hectares which are within the Ruahine Forest Park (RFP) and are therefore the responsibility of the Department of Conservation.

The promoters of the dam plan devised a swap whereby DOC would relinquish the required land in return for a bigger piece of land known as the Smedley Block that the dam promoters, The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), would purchase and swap.

This land swap has always been crucial to the scheme. Without the right to inundate these two parts of the RFP, I’m told that any dam would contain less than one third of the capacity of the planned dam.

At that capacity, the scheme is simply not viable. ?

Read more »

Fenton ‘Jong-Un’ Wilson doesn’t want to fix up Waiau River

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council is proposing a new dam that will turn the Tukituki River toxic.

They say to trust them, they’ve got the science right, despite getting caned on the science in repeated court battles.

But they have form with rubbish dams and water management and it is current.

A broken dam that is slowly destroying a popular summer destination is causing a rift between a Hawke’s Bay power company and local residents.

Eastland Group says it’s working as quickly as possible to clean up the Waiau River but residents say it’s still taking too long.

The river was once known for its crystal clear water, teeming with life, but five months ago vast swathes of sediment started running down the river and it is now smothered in a thick silty sludge.

Wairoa resident Jason Clough has been monitoring the river ever since his summer plans to go swimming, fishing and boating had to be cancelled and he says the fish life has gone.

“They’ve ruined it,” he says. ? Read more »

More a sham than a dam

Things are getting tense in Hawkes Bay over the extremely dodgy socialist dam the regional council is pushing.

Local MPs are getting skittish over it all as it comes to crunch time.

Local MPs are outraged by the “complete lack of transparency” they say the regional council showed, committing ratepayers to a $35 million buy into the Ruataniwha Dam with no public consultation.

At this week’s general meeting, council approved a “provisional decision” on entering the region into a 35-year water user agreement, subject to the scheme proceeding.

The proposal was put forward for the benefits it might yield in regards to the augmentation of environmental flows, such as increased flushing flows for the mainstream rivers.

This decision has sparked outcry from Labour MPs Stuart Nash and Meka Whaitiri, the latter saying: “It’s time to accept that Ruataniwha is more sham than dam.”

Mr Nash said if the regional council was transparent and went out to the community for feedback he believed they would get the buy-in of the people who had actually elected them in.

“This complete lack of transparency is a real concern to me,” he said.

“And the reason I say that is because this is the sort of behaviour of an organisation that has something to hide.”

He said it was this sort of behaviour that made people suspicious of council’s motives.

“The secrecy … it’s not democratic and it’s not the way New Zealanders do business, and it’s not the way New Zealanders expect their elected officials to do business,” he said.

Ms Whaitiri said HBRIC (the investment arm of council) was now effectively asking council and ratepayers to sell water to themselves.

“It’s hard to escape the conclusion that HBRIC’s water user agreement offer to council is a desperate measure for the investment company to meet its water sign-up targets,” she said.

“I’m calling on HBRIC and the regional council to provide concrete assurances to Hawke’s Bay ratepayers now or get out of this deal.”

Read more »