Residents angry over water allocation process

By Dean Nathan

Helena Bay locals are angry that an application for resource consent to take 60,000 litres of water per day has been supported by the Ngāti Wai Trust Board.  

The application was made by Russian industrial magnate Alexander Ambromov to water the lawns of the exclusive Helena Bay Lodge.

Huhana Lyndon says, "It seems commercial interests are being preferenced over locals who need water. Our whānau are being forced to pay for tankers to replenish their water in summer. Yet, the council is close to approving the consent for a Russian-owned company to take water from their creek."

The Northland Regional Council has received a number of objections to the Helena Bay Lodge application. However, neighbour Rosie Stone is the only formal objector recognised by the council who do not see the local marae and other objectors as affected parties.

Rosie Stone says, "I really think it'll be almost dry if they take that amount of water in the summer in a drought.  That means that all the life in the stream will die.  That's my biggest concern.  My other concern is that there's been no professional assessment done of the amount of water in the stream.  They're really the biggest issues for me."

Hepi Haika is the chairman of Mokau Marae in Whangaruru. He says, "They need to actually test the amount of water in the stream. But our people at Whangaruru are well aware that it dries up come summer time.

After initially supporting the application, the Ngāti Wai Trust Board today told Te Kāea that it has now pulled back leaving the issue for the locals to deal with. Meanwhile, the Northland Regional Council has advised that their decision is now pending the outcome of discussions between Mokau Marae and the applicant.

Huhana Lyndon says, "We have major concerns regarding the integrity of the process.  It's also a concern for the health of the stream that's still yet to be tested.  So there are a number of aspects here that the community remains in the dark on."

This afternoon, Stuart Savill of the Northland Regional Council told Te Kaea, "Anyone in New Zealand can take water for free regardless of what they're taking it for.  This applies to individuals as well as companies.  Neither the water tanker company or council pay to actually take water from a stream, river or bore but both charge for the services they provide."

A decision on the matter is expected by next week.