Thousands of NZ'ers call on Hawke's Bay Regional Council to scrap dam

Press release - August 24, 2016
New Zealanders in their thousands are calling on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) to scrap the Ruataniwha Dam, in the wake of the gastro outbreak.

The waterborne illness that’s gripped Havelock North over the last two weeks has sparked nationwide concern over industrial agriculture and its impact on New Zealand’s waterways.

Now people from around the country are demanding HBRC ditch its dam plan, in order to prevent more pressure on waterways. Nearly 4,000 people so far have emailed regional councillors, urging them not to allow the dam to proceed.

“People are putting two and two together, and realising that big irrigation schemes like Ruataniwha increase the risk of Havelock North-type outbreaks, because one of the main purposes of the schemes is to enable more industrial dairying," said Greenpeace Agriculture Spokesperson Genevieve Toop.

“New Zealanders also recognise that if Ruataniwha gets the go ahead, it will be seen as a green light for other big irrigation schemes around the country.

“Irrigation schemes enable more industrial dairy farming, and more industrial dairy farming contaminates our waterways. We can't have a repeat of what's happened in the last two weeks in Havelock North. People’s health and the health of our rivers must come before industrial dairying.”

Despite the risks of big irrigation, the Government is throwing over half a billion taxpayer dollars at it, not just in the Hawke’s Bay but across the country, and local councils are pouring in millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money.

“That public money should instead be going into better, more ecological farming practices,” said Ms Toop.

“We should be cleaning up and protecting our rivers and water supplies, not building giant irrigation schemes that will further pollute them.”