First hearing into Ruataniwha Dam

Ngāti Kahungunu has united in prayer as they begin the long inquiry process into the Ruataniwha Dam, of which they say Māori history, geneology and tikanga has been overlooked.

Ngahiwi Tomoana, chairman of Ngāti Kahungunu asks, “Where is all that information from the lawyers, the consultant, where is all the information from a Māori perspective, from a Māori angle?  The board has left all of that out.”

Around 400 submissions have been lodged and the board will hear dozens of witness and submitters over a two-month period.

Ngāti Kahungunu along with the backing of 20 hapū will present 10 submissions.

Water quality is a huge issue of contention, with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council vehemently rejecting any claims in their opening submission that the project will turn the Tukituki River into a sewer due to high levels of nitrate and pollutant going into it.

As Mr Tomoana explains, “We've seen it first-hand the contamination of the river, the impact from the farmers, the townships by the rivers, it's really polluting the water.”

Once the hearings are complete, the board has been given a tight timeframe of nine months to present its findings to the government.

If approved, it would involve an 83m high dam on the Makaroro River that would hold 90 million cubic metres of water.