Don’t damn dam rally

Two Waipawa businessmen who are organising a rally in Waipukurau to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Gavin Streeter and Shane Heaton are directors of Isaac’s Pumping and Electrical and have taken it upon themselves to show there is grassroots backing for the project.

“The project has been bashed to pieces in the media with the coverage focusing on the Environmental Protection Authority and how councillors are voting.

“We want to take a different approach – this is a rally by the people for the people – the entire Hawke’s Bay community needs to get behind this and show their support in the face of the negative attention the process is receiving,” Mr Streeter said.

Through their business they deal with farmers as customers and said there is a lot of positivity in the farming community about the project.

“The farmers have been doing their bit over the last few months. We thought we would do something on behalf of the local business owners, as it’s not only the farmers who would benefit from this.

Contrary to the anti-irrigation brigade irrigation doesn’t just benefit farmers.

They put up most of the money and have most at risk but the benefit is spread through the community to those who work for, service and supply them.

“If it goes ahead, it might mean we could employ five more local people at our business,” said Mr Heaton.

To that end they were out and about beating the streets in Waipukurau yesterday, visiting as many businesses as they could to spread the word about the rally dubbed “Don’t damn the dam”.

“We don’t just want people from Central Hawke’s Bay to attend, though. We want the big industries in Hawke’s Bay such as Pan Pac, Heinz Watties and McCains to get involved too – this project will have long-term benefits for the whole region,” Mr Streeter said. . .

Those industries will benefit too with more produce to process and sell, which will create more jobs.

Federated Farmers is backing the rally:

“We are calling on every person and business in Hawke’s Bay who wants to have a better future here, to get in their car, ute, tractor or truck and be at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park on Friday at 12pm,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“This Friday is our chance to show New Zealand how much Hawke’s Bay wants to create a positive future for our kids and their kids. The dam will provide so much opportunity for Hawke’s Bay.

“We are expecting a strong show of support and are positively backing Ruataniwha because this is our last shot before the Board of Inquiry delivers its final decision.

“Nothing of any worth has ever come from being negative.

“That’s why we need a positive show of support to demonstrate what we the people who live here want. The feeling in the community is positive and we need to make a stand to show how much of a game changer the dam is going to be for the region.

“The South Island’s Opuha scheme is a shining example of how the whole water storage package works for the economy and the environment.

“The answer to reversing the population drift to Auckland and reversing the loss of businesses and services is as simple as ‘just add water.’

“Federated Farmers is okay with having a number for nitrogen, but let’s make it an indicator and not chiselled in granite.  The whole scheme’s viability hinges on this policy point.

“That will only happen if we show everyone just what Ruataniwha means to us.

“You can do that by making a slogan banner to hang off your vehicle this Friday at midday at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park,” Mr Foley concluded. . . .

From outside Hawkes Bay seems to have it all – good climate, good soils, a variety of viable businesses, a vibrant arts community . . . .

But it has an underbelly with high unemployment and the social problems which go with it and it’s drought-prone.

Irrigation would provide insurance against droughts, boost other businesses and create more jobs.

This is the province’s chance to lay a strong foundation for the future and the rally will indicate whether the people are willing to take it.

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