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More water storage a no-brainer

Opinion Piece

I feel for Dave Hawea, iwi representative on the GDC's freshwater advisory committee.

He is an honourable man and commands respect whenever he speaks.

However, I know what it is like to have representations to council treated with contempt and am hopeful that his complaint will be instrumental in bringing about the change l have been advocating for years. It makes no sense to continue ignoring the obvious.

This council has for years been involved in one of the most disingenuous associations with the ratepayers ever seen, and its recent demonstration of unilateral action — ie the introduction of (probably five) Maori wards — is evidence that this mob simply doesn't care what we (mere mortals) think.

The issue here is that these developments are really only symptomatic of a much deeper malaise that permeates the whole structure of this council's operation — its philosophy, its commitment to and working relationships with the ratepayers and, sadly now, its contemptuous dismissal of (particularly) experienced opinion is beginning to show and it isn't a good look.

When someone in the position supposedly as influential as the one occupied by Dave Hawea in this community starts to call “foul”, you can be pretty sure that the wheels are about to come off.

Surely Dave, as much as anyone, represents the special interest group that the “soon to be allocated” five new councillors are supposed to represent at the council table.

But hang on — it is pretty obvious that Meredith and Josh are more than capable of adding the Maori voice to the discussions already, so why the need to trash the one remaining safeguard that had effectively operated as the defender of the majority interest ever since universal sufferage was introduced?

I'll tell you why! It is because this council is frightened of its own shadow.

It is scared to death of having its authority usurped by unelected pressure groups it can't control, so it has decided to bring them inside the tent — knowing that it lacks the vision and ability to find a way that would allow it to oversee developments that are in the best interests of all ratepayers. It has needlessly played the race card in order to solve a problem that doesn't exist. It is the classic “Clayton's” fix.

Well, here's a tip that could help to change all that. Current problems would cease to exist if council simply recognised their own part in our shared future and began to act accordingly.

Put simply, its role should be as a “facilitator, an enabler” — it is one of “oversight” of developments that it is allowing and because of foresight, has the ability to control.

But it is more than anything a “kaitiaki” role — building on positive advances made by previous generations and protecting the interests of future ones.

The expansion of the kiwifruit industry on the Poverty Bay Flats is something l have predicted for years and represents the best type of development in mitigation against climate change we could have hoped for.

Dave Hawea's concerns have highlighted the need for council to increase access to fresh water infrastructure that can accommodate this change because:

a) this is only the beginning of what could result in the transformation of this region into the most prosperous community in the country, and

b) it is the only way to supply the rapidly-expanding needs of both rural and urban sectors with reliable quantities of fresh water.

We need to build storage capacity like every other East Coast community threatened by climate change has been able to do with Government assistance.

It's a no-brainer really.

  1. Tony Lee says:

    I notice in GDC’s consultation document for the 2021-31 LTP that spending of $2m is planned in years 3 and 4 to make repairs to the Sang dam returning it to its original capacity. I wonder by how much its capacity has been reduced. No doubt, we will find out in the 2021 annual report when its impairment is disclosed. I’d also be interested if there are other issues affecting capacity at the two other storage dams.
    Water storage and delivery is a complex issue for council particularly with the uncertainty over Government’s three waters reform decisions due at some stage later this year to be implemented in 2023/24.

  2. Clive Bibby says:

    Oh dear, your comments are indicative of the lack of vision demonstrated by this Council, Tony.
    Your defence of their pathetic attempts to show leadership is wasted and will go nowhere in providing inspiration for a populace needing hope that there can be a better future even with the threat of climate change and a deliberately-divided
    You focus on the possibility of a $2m spend to fix a dodgy reservoir when the Government has indicated that it has responsibility to provide the bulk of the development capital ($100m-plus) when we want it in order to build the fresh water storage capacity that is the key to our future.
    Sadly, even the Editor appears to share your pessimism in his editorial trying to encourage ratepayers to make representations, submitting their ideas.
    It could be so different.