Anger at Tourism Industry Aotearoa backing of water order

A national tourism association’s backing of a water conservation order for two Hawke’s Bay Rivers has angered local bodies.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) made a submission to the Environmental Protection Authority in support of the proposed water conservation order (WCO) for the Ngaruroro and Clive rivers last Thursday.

The initial application, which was submitted by five entities, was referred to a special tribunal by Environment Minister Nick Smith, with public submissions closing last Thursday.

Read more: 1800 Hawke’s Bay jobs threatened by water conservation order – lobby group
Water conservation order requested

TIA’s submission said the order, if granted, would benefit the environment as well as the tourism industry.

However, Hawke’s Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said she was disappointed TIA had not contacted her first.

“We didn’t know it was coming out, we’ve not agreed with it.”

Hawke’s Bay Tourism supported Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) opposition of the order because it would take away from the work of the TANK Group (which is reviewing the way land and water resources are managed in the greater Heretaunga and Ahuriri area), she said.

“I’m pretty disappointed in TIA … I’m disappointed they didn’t come and talk to us, we are a member of the organisation.”

The association had not done their research into the issues and how it would affect the local businesses, tourism and economy, she said.

HBRC chairman Rex Graham said he thought TIA should have communicated with Hawke’s Bay Tourism before supporting the order.

“I’m really angry, where do they get off not even talking to the local tourism people … making some statement from head office on something that deeply affects Heretaunga.

“They clearly haven’t understood the detail of the water conservation order and its impact on the people of Heretaunga.”

Lack of communication like this is why the order was proposed in the first place, he said.

“If people had talked to each other, none of this would have happened.

“This is a battle which didn’t need to be fought … this nonsense will incur a huge cost to ratepayers.

“There are going to be ramifications, there’s going to be a lot of anger in the community. It will result in a deep divide which will take a long time to heal.”

The order would bypass the community by going against all the work TANK had done to address water issues, he said.

“The way the water conservation order is written will destroy tourism in Hawke’s Bay.

“Horticulture on the Heretaunga Plains would be decimated.”

Golf courses, vineyards and orchards will be restricted in their water use and will no longer be able to function, Mr Graham said,

TANK, which is a group of people representing various sectors of the community, has been working towards compromises between businesses, tourism and the environment, he said.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said he had no problem with HBRC and Hawke’s Bay Tourism having different opinions to TIA.

TIA had made the submission because they believed the water conservation order would be the best option for the region’s environment, he said.

“We need to protect our rivers.”

Mr Roberts acknowledged that TIA should have spoken to Hawke’s Bay Tourism first to get their stance but said that whatever outcome was decided by the special tribunal would be supported by TIA.

There had been some effort made to speak to Hawke’s Bay Tourism but TIA did fail in their part to do this, he said.

“Normally we would communicate with the local tourism bodies.

“I’m sure everyone is wanting to protect the rivers and balance the needs of Hawke’s Bay. At the end of the day that is what matters.”

The special tribunal will be holding a pre-hearing conference in Napier on September 15.

Hawkes Bay Today