Meeting of the Regional Planning Committee



Date:                 Wednesday 7 November 2012

Time:                1.00pm


Council Chamber

Hawke's Bay Regional Council

159 Dalton Street





Item      Subject                                                                                            Page


1.         Welcome/Notices/Apologies 

2.         Conflict of Interest Declarations  

3.         Confirmation of Minutes of the Regional Planning Committee held on 19 September 2012

4.         Matters Arising from Minutes of the  Regional Planning Committee held on 19 September 2012

5.         Action Items from Previous Regional Planning Committee Meetings

6.         Call for General Business Items

Decision Items

7.         Regional Policy Statement (RPS) Change 5 Update

8.         Tukituki Choices - Responses  

Information or Performance Monitoring

9.         General Business  




Regional Planning Committee  

Wednesday 07 November 2012

SUBJECT: Action Items from Previous Regional Planning Committee Meetings        


Reason for Report

1.      Attachment 1 lists items raised at previous meetings that require actions or follow-ups. All action items indicate who is responsible for each action, when it is expected to be completed and a brief status comment. Once the items have been completed and reported to Council they will be removed from the list.


Decision Making Process

2.      Council is required to make a decision in accordance with Part 6 Sub-Part 1, of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act). Staff have assessed the requirements contained within this section of the Act in relation to this item and have concluded that as this report is for information only and no decision is required in terms of the Local Government Act’s provisions, the decision making procedures set out in the Act do not apply.



1.      That the Committee receives the report “Action Items from Previous Meetings”.





Helen Codlin

Group Manager

Strategic Development


Andrew Newman

Chief Executive




Action Items




Action Items

Attachment 1


Actions from Regional Planning Committee Meetings


19 September 2012


Agenda Item


Person Responsible

Due Date

Status Comment


Training Course for Resource Management Act Hearing Commissioners

To investigate costs and dates



Awaiting response – Update at meeting


















Regional Planning Committee  

Wednesday 07 November 2012

SUBJECT: Regional Policy Statement (RPS) Change 5 Update        


Reason for Report

1.      This report provides an update on progressing proposed Regional Policy Statement Change 5 (‘Change 5’) through the Resource Management Act’s formal submission phases.

2.      The report also presents the Committee with an opportunity to suggest potential appointees to a Hearing Panel hearing submissions lodged on Change 5.


3.      Change 5 was publicly notified (ie: released and submissions invited) on 2nd October.  Deadline for submissions is 5pm Monday 5th November. At the time this report was published (noon Thursday 1st November), four submissions had been received. Staff anticipate that number will be a small fraction of the total number eventually lodged.  By the time of the Committee’s meeting, staff should be in a position to tally up the total number of submissions received – but assessment of submission content will not be possible in such a short timeframe.

Next steps

4.      Figure 1 re-presents indicative timeframes for progression of Change 5 through the RMA’s submission and hearing phases.

Figure 1: Indicative dates of key milestones for Change 5


Milestone / Event


Tue 2 Oct

Change 5 publicly notified, submissions invited

Mon 5 Nov

Submission period deadline (22 working days)


Staff summarise submissions received (if submissions are clear and issues raised not too complex)

5 Dec

Submission summary notified and further submissions invited

20 Dec

Further submission period deadline (10 working days)


Jan / Feb / Mar

Staff drafting reports and recommendations on submitters’ requests

mid March

Staff reports on submissions published and distributed

Apr – May

Hearings by Panel, deliberations and decision-making

22 May

Council meeting (NB: required only if Panel is not delegated authority to hear and decide upon submissions)

31 May

Decisions on submissions issued


Period for lodging appeals to Environment Court

July onwards

Resolution of appeals (if any)


Hearing Panel Membership

5.      Hearings on Change 5 could be held as early as April 2013.  For the avoidance of doubt, any submissions on Change 5 will be heard in the first instance by a panel appointed by the Council – not the Environment Court or via the Environmental Protection Authority.  The Regional Planning Committee’s responsibilities include recommending to Council the membership of hearing panels to hear and decide upon submissions on proposed Changes to plans and policy statements.

6.      The Panel may be as big (or as small) in membership as the Council chooses.  However, Panel members must be appropriately trained and eligible (certified) commissioners, which may include members of the Regional Planning Committee. Attachment 1 sets out a number of considerations in Panel selection.  Much of the content of Attachment 1 has been sourced from[1] and tailored for plan and policy statement hearings (as opposed to resource consent hearings).

7.      Given the scope, purpose and issues arising in Change 5, staff consider core competencies of the Panel would comprise of the following (in no particular order):

7.1.   familiarity of land and water management issues in Hawke's Bay

7.2.   understanding of mana whenua resource management principles

7.3.   policy development and decision-making in RMA setting

8.      Staff do not consider it is essential for the Change 5 hearing panel to have technical or scientific expertise given Change 5’s reasonably high-level policy focus.

9.      Assuming the Committee agrees with the assessment of desirable competences in paragraph 7, staff welcome any suggestions of names of persons who could be approached to enquire about their interest, availability and skills to hear and deciding upon submissions on Change 5.

10.    It is considered premature to appoint specific individuals to the Panel at this time.  This is largely due to exact hearing dates not yet being known, and potentially some would-be commissioners could be conflicted due to some involvement in submissions on Change 5.

Hearing Commissioner Certification Programme

11.    At the Committee’s meeting in September, many members indicated a positive interest in participating in a programme for becoming certified resource management hearing commissioners.  Staff have enquired into the prospect of the ‘Making Good Decisions’ (MGD) introductory programme to be hosted at a Napier venue in the coming months.  To date, national coordinators of the MGD programme have not provided any indications or firm commitments in terms of:

11.1. likelihood of MGD introductory programme being offered at a Napier venue; and/or

11.2. any other venues and dates for the programme being offered during 2013.

Financial and Resource Implications

12.    Preparation of Change 5 and progressing Change 5 through the submission and hearings phases is provided for in Project 192 (‘Strategy and Planning’).  No additional external expenditure budget is needed at this time.  Internal staff time is also already catered for within existing budgets.

Decision Making Process

13.    Council is required to make a decision in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act).  Staff have assessed the requirements contained in Part 6 Sub Part 1 of the Act in relation to this item and have concluded the following:

13.1. The decision does not significantly alter the service provision or affect a strategic asset.

13.2. The use of the special consultative procedure is not prescribed by legislation.

13.3. The decision does not fall within the definition of Council’s policy on significance.

13.4. The persons affected by this decision are all those persons with an interest in the region’s management of natural and physical resources under the RMA, but nevertheless, they will have had opportunities to make submissions when Change 5 is publicly notified or to make further submissions on Change 5.

13.5. Options that have been considered are limited to the procedures prescribed within the RMA.  Options included appointing panel membership now or at a later date.  The option of not appointing a Panel at all was not able to be considered.

13.6. The decision is not inconsistent with an existing policy or plan.

13.7. Given the nature and significance of the issue to be considered and decided, and also the persons likely to be affected by, or have an interest in the decisions made, Council can exercise its discretion and make a decision without consulting directly with the community or others having an interest in the decision because the Resource Management Act allows people to have an opportunity to submit on Change 5 and to make further submissions in some instances.



That the Regional Planning Committee recommends Council:

1.      Agrees that the decisions to be made are not significant under the criteria contained in Council’s adopted policy on significance and that Council can exercise its discretion under Sections 79(1)(a) and 82(3) of the Local Government Act 2002 and make decisions on this issue without conferring directly with the community and persons likely to be affected by or to have an interest in the decision due to the nature and significance of the issue to be considered and decided.

2.      Receives the report titled ‘Regional Policy Statement Change 5 update.’

3.      Considers potential members for the Panel to hear and decide upon submissions made to proposed Change 5, and forward those names of likely candidates to staff over the next two months.




Gavin Ide

Team Leader Policy


Helen Codlin

Group Manager

Strategic Development




Guide - use of Commissioners for Plan Hearings




Guide - use of Commissioners for Plan Hearings

Attachment 1


Selection of commissioners for plan and policy statement hearings

NOTE: much of the following content has been sourced from

1.     What is a commissioner?

2.     A commissioner is a person appointed by a council to carry out statutory decision-making duties on the council’s behalf, or to serve as an independent adviser to the council in the making of those statutory decisions.  Commissioners may be generally classified as:

a)      internal commissioners who are appointed from within a council

b)      independent commissioners who are not a member of the council i.e. appointed from outside the elected members or staff of a council.

3.     A council can appoint anyone to be an independent commissioner for plan and policy statement hearings (separate requirements apply in relation to independent commissioners for hearing resource consent matters). Typically those appointed will have relevant skills and experience for the issue being decided (such as in planning, law, heritage, engineering or science). They may also be former councillors, or certified Chairs via the ‘Making Good Decisions’ programme, who are appointed for their chairing or hearing experience and expertise.

4.     Guidance on the use of independent commissioners

5.     The decision to use internal commissioners or independent commissioners (or a combination) will often involve the following considerations:

a)      perceived or actual conflicts of interest or perceptions of bias

b)      the need for specialist expertise not available within a council in cases where issues surrounding an proposal are complex or of a highly technical nature

c)       whether the proposal has substantive implications for the policy of a council such that elected representative input may be considered necessary or desirable

d)      the likely expense of using independent commissioners compared to the scale of the issue (particularly where an independent commissioner would have to be brought in from outside the district or region)

e)      the availability of independent commissioners at the time a hearing is required

6.     While consideration must be given to all these factors, it is generally accepted to be good practice to use independent commissioners in place of internal commissioners when:

a)      the council, or an individual elected representative, may otherwise be perceived to have an actual or perceived conflict of interest

b)      matters are outside the technical knowledge or experience of elected members or the council’s own staff

c)       one or more committee members may have, or may be perceived to have, a closed mind on the proposal (such as when publicly stating opinions on the merits of a proposal in the media or at public meetings before it is heard)

d)      combined or joint hearings under s102 where a neutral chairperson or adviser is considered desirable.

7.     Some councils also employ independent commissioners to make decisions on proposals that are politically contentious. This removes the political pressures that may otherwise be placed on councillors at key times (such as in the lead-up to election).

8.     Independent commissioners may also be employed to:

a)      assist council in carrying out their duties during times when councillors are not available due to conflicting meeting times, or heavy workloads (such as during annual plan hearings)

b)      to assist councils following local body elections, when there has been a considerable turnover of councillors, and hearing committees are perhaps lacking in skills and expertise, or cannot otherwise field a sufficient proportion of accredited hearing panel members

c)       to cover lengthy hearings which councillors would be unable to attend on a continuous basis due to business, financial, family or other limitations

d)      hear plan changes or carry out other functions of councillors immediately after local authority elections when committees who may normally hear plan changes have yet to be appointed.

9.     Use of Māori commissioners

10.  There may be circumstances when Māori commissioners should be appointed such as for proposals to make use of natural resources including water, water bodies and geothermal, or which affect cultural and heritage assets, or are otherwise based on Maori values.

11.  Good practices in the use of independent commissioners include:

a)      The skills and experience of independent commissioners employed should match the nature, scale and technical complexity of the issues on which a decision is being made.

b)      MfE maintains a list of independent commissioners and councillors (including their fields of expertise and areas of practice) who have achieved certification under the Making Good Decisions programme.   

c)       A check of the past experience of candidates for independent commissioner work can be used to ensure that they have the capability to undertake the task for which they are being considered.

d)      Ensure that the accreditation requirements of the RMA are taken into account.

e)      Elected members or independents appointed as commissioners are not subject to standing orders or other formal committee procedures (because they are not a committee of the council). In any event, the hearing should be conducted without undue formality.

f)       Councils should ensure that the appointment and delegation of commissioners clearly sets out:

·    the identity of the commissioners

·    the identity of the chair, or whether the commissioners may elect a chair

·    that the commissioners have the power, under s34A of the RMA, to both hear and make decisions on the relevant proposal and/or submissions or, where relevant, to hear and make recommendations

·    whether the commissioners can continue to hear and make a decision if one or more of the commissioners is unable to continue with the hearing

·    where necessary, that commissioners may make decisions in relation to preliminary processes, such as extensions of time limits, waiver of late submissions, decisions on pre-hearing meetings, etc (in many cases these will not be relevant, as these steps will occur before the appointment of the commissioners)

·    that the commissioners have been delegated the powers to exercise any additional power or function under ss41 to 42A of the RMA

·    whether the commissioners are expected to deliberate in public or in private.

12.  Additional points for councils using commissioners

13.  In delegating its procedural powers at the hearing, the council may wish to consider whether decisions on procedure should be delegated to the chair alone, rather than collectively to the panel of commissioners. Especially where an experienced chair has been appointed, it may be administratively convenient to leave decisions on hearing procedure entirely to the chair; this will also enable the other panel members to focus on the merits of the proposal.

14.  Independent commissioners are not technically operating under a councils code of conduct. However, they should bear in mind that they represent the public face of the council in undertaking its RMA function. Commissioners must also be aware that they may only act in accordance with the terms of their delegation.  Councils should ensure they clearly set out any procedural expectations for hearings conducted by commissioners at the time the commissioners are appointed.

15.  Best practice in appointing councillors as internal commissioners:

16.  Councillors will usually decide who among them will be appointed to internal commissioner roles. In the interests of good practice they should be guided by the following principles (whether or not they form part of a council policy or set of guidelines):

a)      elected members or councillors should have training and experience as chairs or hearing panel members or both, and be able to demonstrate fulfilling the accreditation requirements of the RMA by holding a current certificate under the Making Good Decisions programme.

b)      councillors nominated to be appointed as internal commissioners should have no actual or perceived conflict of interest.

c)       where councillors or other elected members are regularly called upon to act as internal commissioners, they need to be made fully aware of the potential workload involved and be available as required.

d)      any appointment of internal commissioners and delegation of functions made under s34A of the RMA should be formally recorded as a resolution of the council. This appointment may be recorded on documentation related to a hearing (such as correspondence and order papers) to ensure that no confusion exists in regard to the authority of those persons to act as commissioners.

17.  How many commissioners should be used?

18.  There are no legal or statutory requirements as to how many commissioners should make decisions on plan and policy statement matters. Principles contained in case law, common practice, and overseas examples do, however, provide some guidance.

19.  The number of commissioners should match the scale of the decision that needs to be made, its complexity, and the experience and expertise of the commissioners.

a)      Single-issue decisions of low complexity will generally require only one commissioner.

b)      Complex decisions, for example proposals dealing with technical arguments on many different issues, may require two or more commissioners. One commissioner will often be employed to take into account the overall considerations of the proposal and guide the conduct of proceedings; the other(s) may consider the more detailed technical evidence according to their knowledge and experience. There should be sufficient expertise in the panel to ensure full understanding of the relevant evidence and information presented.

c)       Proposals with large numbers of submissions may warrant the use of more than one commissioner: the issues covered by submitters may be varied and require a range and depth of technical knowledge which no single commissioner can be expected to have.

20.  Some councils use an odd number of commissioners in hearings to avoid ‘stalemate’ situations. With an even number of commissioners, councils may want to identify which commissioner's view will prevail or have a casting vote (usually the chairperson or principal commissioner) in the appointment/delegation of powers to commissioners. For most hearings, no more than three commissioners should be needed.


21.  The skills a commissioner requires

22.  All commissioners should have a set of core competencies and skills that enable them to understand the proposal or issue before them, conduct hearings in an appropriate manner, and make sound decisions.

23.  Core competencies include:

a)      correctly identifying the nature of issues arising during a hearing in terms of the RMA and relevant planning documents

b)      recognising common decision-making biases and applying cognitive strategies to minimise their impact

c)       demonstrating impartiality and integrity

d)      systematically and appropriately test and question the evidence and decisions of others

e)      demonstrating commitment to appropriately and fairly assessing and weighing evidence

f)       making balanced contributions during deliberation and obtaining and elucidating relevant views from other panel members to increase the total knowledge available

g)      using appropriate decision-making tools

h)      formulating a reasoned decision independently of others.

24.  Commissioners should have the following expertise:

a)      a good knowledge of the RMA, and the decision-making and hearings procedures contained within it

b)      knowledge of functions and processes under the Local Government Act and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987

c)       the ability to listen effectively, distilling the key arguments and facts from the information presented

d)      an awareness and understanding of the principles of natural justice and a sense of fair play

e)      the ability to maintain objective neutrality (not jump to conclusions or predetermine an outcome)

f)       a general understanding of the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, their relevance in legislation, and whether and how they may be applicable to the decision(s) to be made.

25.  Other skills or qualities may be required to meet the circumstances where general knowledge and skills alone will not suffice. These other qualities or skills could include:

a)      recognised specialist qualifications, expertise and/or experience in a particular field (such as resource management law, planning, surveying, engineering, ecology, architecture, urban design or science)

b)      understanding of Māori language, tikanga, history and cultural values (such as in cases where Māori heritage, tāonga, or ancestral relationships could be affected). On occasion an appreciation of potential conflicting or competing interests between local hapū or iwi may also be required.

c)       an understanding of other cultures, in cases where issues in relation to those cultures have been raised.

26.  A commissioner who chairs a hearing, or sits alone, can be expected to have the following additional competencies:

a)      jointly considering and applying RMA, relevant legislation and planning documents to a wide variety of complex contexts

b)      demonstrating awareness of the powers of a panel and chair and being able to apply these powers flexibly, ethically, fairly and appropriately

c)       chairing hearings confidently, dealing appropriately with complex and unexpected issues, plus effectively leading and managing other panel members

d)      effectively leading and managing processes leading up to the hearing

e)      effectively leading and managing the post-hearing processes

f)       demonstrating a commitment to managing and developing the performance of panel members and continuous self-improvement.

27.  Chairs with this set of competencies can be expected to:

a)      conduct the hearing in a way that enables all parties who wish to be heard a fair hearing without time wastage or undue coverage of irrelevant or inappropriate issues and evidence

b)      manage conflict and unacceptable behaviours associated with unreasonable challenges

c)       communicate succinctly and accurately (orally and in written form), explaining the reasoning for any decisions made, including decisions regarding the relevance (or otherwise) of evidence being presented

d)      fully understand the processes involved in drafting decisions and be able to write decisions without assistance.

28.  Some councils make staff available to assist commissioners in the interpretation of their plans. Where an adviser drawn from council staff is not available – or not wanted – it is important that the commissioner is familiar with both the content and structure of those planning documents, and can interpret them accurately.

29.  All the skills referred to above are covered by the ‘Making Good Decisions’ programme.


Regional Planning Committee  

Wednesday 07 November 2012

SUBJECT: Tukituki Choices - Responses         


Reason for Report

1.      At its meeting on Wednesday 31 October 2012, the Council considered the responses that were received on the Tukituki Choices discussion document and resolved a number of key approaches for the development of policy for the Tukituki Catchment as follows:

1.1.   Setting water allocation limits as generally outlined in the Tukituki choices discussion document;

1.2.   Setting minimum flow limits based on 90% habitat protection for longfin eel for Waipawa River at SH 2 and Tukituki at Tapairu Rd, transitioning from current over a 3-5 year period.

1.3.   Setting minimum flows for Tukituki at Red Bridge based on 90% habitat protection for trout, transitioning from current over a ten year period,

1.4.   Allowing applications to be lodged to take water for community irrigation schemes over and above the core allocation limits

1.5.   Recognising phosphorus as the limiting nutrient in the mainstem of the river system and setting in stream phosphorus targets as a means of reducing periphyton growth

1.6.   Recognising that managing nitrogen for controlling periphyton would at best deliver marginal additional environmental benefit compared to those resulting from a reduction in phosphorus and would require such a large reduction in existing nitrogen leaching levels and that it would have an attendant unacceptable level of economic impact on the landowners, and the district.  The position therefore of both Council staff and external science advisors is that management of nitrogen to levels required to reduce periphyton is not the most environmentally or economically effective way of reducing periphyton growth and the focus should be on controlling phosphorus

1.7.   Managing nitrogen for nitrate toxicity based on a 95% ANZECC protection threshold for zone 1, and the 90% ANZECC protection threshold for zones 2, 3 and 5.  The 90% species protection level correspond to a very low risk of a minor effect on trout and a negligible risk of insignificant effect on native fish and invertebrate species and are thus considered environmentally conservative

1.8.   Managing nitrogen and phosphorus at current in-stream nitrate levels for Zone 4.

1.9.   Setting other water quality limits to maintain the life supporting capacity of freshwater bodies and associated ecosystems.

1.10. Reviewing land management policies and practices and regulatory approaches over riparian margins.

2.      The purpose of this item is to provide an opportunity for the treaty claimant group members of the Regional Planning Committee to consider those resolutions in the context of the Tukituki Plan Change and to indicate any additional ‘approaches’ for staff to consider in developing the plan change for the Tukituki Catchment.

3.      A summary of the responses are provided in Attachment 1 and the full responses can be viewed on the Council’s website.

4.      The following sections replicate the paper considered by Council. 



Council’s approach to the issues in the Tukituki Catchment

5.      The Council has been working on a three pronged approach towards managing the land and water issues in the Tukituki Catchment.

6.      Council’s first priority has been finding ways to improve summer flows.  

7.      One way is to increase the river flow at which consent holders would be required to stop taking water.  This ‘minimum’ flow can be set for different levels of habitat protection and it is proposed that the Tukituki River warrants a higher level of protection for both longfin eel and trout. This does have economic impacts on existing irrigators, significant in some cases, and a contested process and a long transition time, even if successful is likely with this approach.

8.      Another way is to enable and facilitate the collection of high river flows into storage with the migration of some, if not all, existing irrigation from surface and groundwater supplies to stored water.  This would result in more natural flow conditions particularly over the low flow period, over and above the flow that would occur even if the minimum flow cut-off is increased.

9.      The second priority has been to reduce phosphorus (P) inputs to the river as the most practical way to achieve a reduction in algae growth in the river.  The Waipukurau and Waipawa wastewater discharges contain high levels of phosphorus, and during summer low flows, it makes up 50-70% of the phosphorus input in the catchment.  HBRC has known the river was P limited for a number of years and the consent it issued for the wastewater discharges requires a significant reduction in the P levels by September 2014.  While HBRC has actively sought to assist the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council to find a technically feasible and financially acceptable land based solution for its municipal wastewater discharges, and even purchased and planted land for that purpose, CHBDC is proposing to reduce the phosphorus in the wastewater through chemical treatment in order to meet the effluent quality limits on the consent.

10.    Meeting the new effluent standards will make a significant difference to P concentrations and algal growth in the river.

11.    Another source of P is sediment.  Stock exclusion from water ways is proposed to minimise the amount of sediment getting into the water.  This will improve the water quality for swimming and fishing.  Water quality limits will be set for phosphorus and the Council’s land management team will target sub-catchments with high phosphorus levels to minimise sediment discharges and other sources of phosphorus discharges.

12.    Thirdly, nitrate concentration in the rivers will be managed to protect aquatic species from nitrate toxicity effects and nitrogen load limits will be set for the catchment.  HBRC initiated new research on nitrate toxicity for native fish (inanga) and mayfly which found that these species are more tolerant to nitrate concentrations than rainbow trout and the even more sensitive lake trout ( not found in New Zealand).  The proposed levels provide good protection for trout species and given the higher tolerance of inanga, provide an even higher protection to other species.

13.    Fourthly, the exclusion of stock from waterways, riparian planting and nutrient management plans required as part of the mitigation measures for the storage scheme will allow stream banks and rivers to recover to provide improved habitat for aquatic species including long fin eel and other native fish species.  The contractual arrangement between irrigator and scheme owner would enable access to water to be withheld if these practices as conditions of supply are not met, providing a much easier, faster, and more reliable means of enforcement than available under the Resource Management Act.

Consultation Process

14.    The purpose of the consultation was to integrate the Ruataniwha Water Storage project into the options for the future management of land and water in the Tukituki Catchment.    It provided four choices to consider, two without storage (A and B) and two with storage (C and D).  The choices considered different minimum flow regimes and different water quality limits for nitrate.

15.    The consultation on the Tukituki Choices discussion document is an ‘informal’ non-statutory process. Council is not required to do it but it is considered to be good planning practice. Policies and rules for land and water management in the Tukituki River Catchment are to be contained in the Regional Resource Management Plan. This will be done by way of a ‘Plan Change’ which follows a formal statutory process.

16.    While Council has been actively engaging with key stakeholders over the last two years specifically around the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project, the Tukituki Choices process has provided stakeholders who are directly affected by decisions around land and water management, and the regional community, with an opportunity to comment on possible land and water management options, the role of storage, and indicate what is important to them. 

17.    The community was advised of this opportunity in a number of ways:

17.1. Direct mailout of the Tukituki Discussion Document to stakeholders

17.2. Public notices in the community newspapers across the region

17.3. Special edition of ‘Our Place’ delivered to all households (55,000) in the region

17.4. Presentations at three public meetings and two breakfast meetings

18.    It was also the topic of discussion at an EIT led public meeting.

19.    The community has therefore been well informed of the opportunity to comment on Tukituki Choices.

20.    In response to the concerns raised in the meetings about the lack of time to read the material available and the lateness of that material being available, a decision was made to extend the time frame for making comments to 15 October 2012.

Effects on the Community

21.    It is relevant to recognise that the implications of land and water management decisions for the Tukituki Catchment are different for different stakeholders. 

22.    Decisions around water allocation and water quality limits can have financial impacts on people who are currently taking water for their business operations and who are farming the land. 

23.    If storage proceeds and the benefits on river flows are realised, it is the existing irrigators who will directly face very significant financial costs in return for the much higher level of water security.  The local community too would face significant changes.

Number of Responses Received and Analysis of Responders

24.    A total of 164 responses have been received. The following table shows an analysis of responders (note that the residential addresses of 15 individual responders was not provided and these have been included in the ‘individual outside the catchment’ category).   It provides an understanding of which sectors of the community have responded and an understanding of their key drivers.

Responder Category

Number of Comments Received

Irrigators / Landowners in the catchment


Iwi organisations (included Marae)


Industry Sector


Statutory Organisations (e.g. TAs, Department of Conservation, Conservation Board, HBF&G)


Non-statutory Environmental / Recreational Groups


Individuals outside the catchment





25.    Most members of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Stakeholder Group have made individual responses.

 Summary of Responses

26.    A summary of the responses for each community sector is provided below and specific discussion on key matters is provided in the following section.

Irrigators / Landowners

27.    This group epitomises the diversity of community that can be found in the Tukituki Catchment with irrigators, farmers, individuals living in the townships and lifestylers, both at the top and bottom of the catchment. 

28.    The responses were also diverse across the choices including support for Choice D subject to existing irrigators being incentivised to migrate to storage rather than forced, support for Choice B, or a combination of Choice D and B. There was concern over the proposed increase to the minimum flow at the Red Bridge flow monitoring site and the economic impacts of that; concern over the allocation limits and the use of seasonal allocations; the need for large scale rehabilitation of pastoral stream habitats if storage proceeds.  There were general queries about the economics of the storage proposal.

29.    Sixteen of the 44 responders supported storage. It is significant that the Ruataniwha Water User Group, as one responder representing a significant proportion of the water take by volume, is supportive of Choice D.  The Group is keen to work with the Council to identify ways in which the Group could be used to undertake some of the operational elements of water management, and possibly nutrient management as well.

Iwi organisations

30.    Te Taiwhenua O Tamatea has not made any specific comments as part of the Tukituki Choices process but has been integral in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project from the outset. The Cultural Values and Uses Report is a key reference report for understanding the impacts of the storage project on cultural values and for developing policy for the Tukituki Plan Change.

31.    The feedback that has been received from Te Taiwhenua O Tamatea within Ruataniwha Leadership and Stakeholder Group meetings is summarised as follows:

31.1.    Manawhenua want to be an integral part of the process, in a governance and/or ownership sense

31.2.    Employment opportunities need to be realised and a strategy put in place now so that Maori are in a position to take up those employment opportunities.

31.3.    The mauri of the river is degraded and needs to be restored.

32.    Te Runanganui o Heretaunga, representing a number of marae in the Heretaunga rohe, is facilitated through TeTaiwhenua o Heretaunga. This response is comprehensive.  It indicates, among others matters, that it does not support the ‘grandparenting’ of existing allocations, questions the adequacy of the water management zones to provide protection of aquatic species, states that higher minimum flows are required to protect species habitat, domestic water supply should be a priority but stockwater should be subject to minimum flow restrictions, on-farm storage should be further evaluated, nitrate leaching limits must be set to 22 kg or less, similar to One Plan provisions, and limits are required for phosphorus.  It recommends in the first instance that there is no water storage dam on the Makaroro, that all documents relevant to Tukituki Choices and the Plan Change are subject to a cultural peer review and that if the review is satisfactory and storage is proceeded with, that there is Tamatea and Heretaunga representation at a governance level, the size of the dam is reduced to 60 million cubic metres to reduce risk from the proximity of the Mohaka Fault, that a cultural health assessment is undertaken on a number of reaches and that a resource rental be charged payable to tangata whenua.

33.    Nga Marae O Heretaunga questions the identified benefits of the proposed storage project for tangata whenua and focuses on their role as a Treaty Partner in resource management decision-making, how the Maori world view of natural resources in valued and the impending Waitangi Tribunal Claims.  This is also supported by Mangaroa Marae.

34.    Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated (NKII) supports other responses from relevant tangata whenua, hapu and whanau.  It supports and encourages the protection of all its water bodies including aquifers and associated recharge zones.  It highlights recent Waitangi Tribunal findings and recommendations and advises that it has invited the Crown to talk with them kanohi ki te kanohi to develop mutually beneficial ways forward in freshwater management and the discussions with Councils will follow.

Industry Sectors

35.    The 18 responses from the industry sector included Hawke’s Bay Fruit growers, Hawke’s Bay Wine Growers, HB Chamber of Commerce, McCains, Heinz Watties, Fonterra, Dairy NZ, Fertiliser Research, Federated Farmers, Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture NZ and Pipfruit NZ. 

36.    This sector was consistent in its solid support of water storage as being critical to the region’s economic well being and resilience in the face of climate change.  Both Choice C and D were favoured and while there was more support for Choice D, many recognised the investment that had been made by existing irrigators to secure and reliable water supply. Voluntary migration to storage or positive incentives for migration were sought.

37.    With respect to nutrient management, many industry organisations recognised that they have a role in developing tools that their farmers can use to manage nutrients effectively.

Statutory Organisations

38.    Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and Hastings District Council both indicated that Choice D was consistent with their Council’s strategic direction and wellbeing statements. HDC’s support for Choice D was conditional on the financial business case, the ability to adequately mitigate effects of storage, and addressing the impacts on the security of supply for the Lower Tukituki water users.

39.    The Hawke’s Bay District Health Board highlighted concerns relating to cyanobacterial blooms, groundwater quality and impacts on potable groundwater supplies, the socio-economic benefits of the storage project and where they actually fall, and the need for a more adequate health impact assessment to support the application for consent.

40.    The Department of Conservation understands that Choice D is likely to be the position advanced by Council and is keen to work with the Council on the plan change and possible conditions of any storage application to deliver both environmental and economic outcomes so that they can be in a position to support both projects.

41.    Wellington / Hawke’s Bay Conservation Board believes the Council should make protection of biodiversity, aquatic ecosystems and in-stream uses a primary consideration in future water management and should broaden the focus of the plan change to include measures of ecosystem health, indigenous biodiversity and trout habitat quality, and measures that prevent further deterioration in these areas.  It also believes that a full ecosystem services study, evaluating the sustainability of the impounded river systems and the cost-effectiveness of the storage project should be undertaken.

42.    Hawke’s Bay Fish and Game Council supports the identification of values and the setting of water quantity and quality limits to protect those values and agrees that a combination of increased minimum flows, on farm sediment, faecal and nutrient management in appropriate leaching standards, stock exclusion from water bodies, wetland enhancement, wastewater management and implementation of limits are needed. It believes the values identified in the Tukituki Choices is incomplete and/or are not identified to the appropriate level, and that none of the options adequately address the water quality and quantity issues.  HBFGC refers to the One Plan as an example to follow.

Non-statutory Environmental / Recreational Groups

43.    Hawke’s Bay Water Environment Group has provided a comprehensive and detailed response, with a focus on water quality limits, ecological health and soil quality.

44.    Stream 2000 opposes storage because it no longer appears that current allocation will be reduced (refer water allocation assumption in Tukituki choices) and land use intensification will adversely affect the trout fishery and recreational use of the river.

45.    Napier Freshwater Anglers Club is not confident that water storage will fix the current over-allocation problem and is concerned that storage will lead to land uses that require concentrated fertiliser applications. Setting low limits for nitrogen and phosphorus is required to reduce periphyton growth, and stock exclusion and riparian planting should be mandatory.

46.    The Central Hawke’s Bay branch of Forest and Bird seeks water quality benchmarks as per the One Plan and proposes that if storage proceeds, farm management plans must be mandatory, the mitigation package must be independently reviewed. It proposes Choice E as a combination of Choice D and B.

47.    Sustaining Hawke’s Bay Trust response sets out a list what it values in the Tukituki River and the current impacts on those values.  It wants Council to place highest priority on environmental outcomes, recognising that only through a healthy environment can good community, social and economic outcomes be achieved. It wants more sustainable agricultural systems and diversity of production options in addition to land based production. It wants the Council to take more time to consider other options and not rush decision-making.

48.    Hastings / Havelock North branch of Forest and Bird seeks to maintain and improve current water quality and if storage proceeds, find mechanisms to migrate current irrigators to storage, mandatory use of nutrient budgets, matching land use to soil types, mitigation practices for different farming types, fertiliser plans, soil erosion, stock exclusion from waterways and riparian planting, document storage mitigation initiatives within the consent application, use storage water to alleviate the summer low flow problems.

49.    Te Taiao Hawke’s Bay Environmental Forum describes a range of values for the Tukituki and the current threats to those values.  It sees land use intensification with or without storage as a future threat to those values. It would like farm plans to be mandatory for existing and new properties that are to be intensively farmed and land use changes to more intensive operations require a consent. It would like to see the timeframe for Tukituki Choices, the Tukituki Plan Change, the Regional Policy Statement and the decision of proceeding with the storage project to be extended by 6 months and for a new option developed for water storage that incorporates improving water quality and restoration of ecologically acceptable low flows in summer.  It seeks a public referendum on the decision to proceed with the dam. It would like to see better protection of native habitats (aquatic and terrestrial) in the Tukituki Plan Change.

50.    Friends of the Tukituki believes the consultation process has been completely inadequate, that Council has been completely unwilling to take into account the One Plan decision and that Council has refused to negotiate in good faith with Friends of the Tukituki and like-minded groups on minimum environmental standards.

Individuals outside the catchment

51.    Responses in this sector of the community were predominantly opposed to storage and or supported Choice B. 

52.    A few were neutral, instead commenting on matters that they thought the Council should consider when making its decisions.

53.    A number provided well reasoned comments supported by their background or qualifications while others were short statements only.

Specific Matters Raised

Red Bridge Minimum Flow

54.    Concern about the increase to the Red Bridge minimum flow was raised by downstream irrigators, Fruit grower and Winegrower associations and by the Hastings District Council submission.  The industry sector indicated it was doing its own analysis of the economic impacts of the increase.

55.    HDC queried whether the proposed level of protection for the trout fishery could be reduced in the lower reaches if a higher level of protection was maintained in the upper catchment.

56.    Fish and Game Hawke’s Bay’s response was not specific in its position with respect to the minimum flows, simply noting that higher flows were part of the package for environmental improvement.

57.    Staff have already engaged Tonkin and Taylor to look at the feasibility of providing water from storage to these downstream users during the low flow periods.

58.    There was no concerns expressed with regard to the increase in minimum flows in the upstream sites (Waipawa at SH2 and Tukituki at Tapairu Rd) nor regarding the fish species they were based on (longfin eel).  It is noted that Te Runanganui o Heretaunga sought a further increase in these minimum flows.

Allocation Limits

59.    A number of responses sought a reduction in the amount of water allowed to be taken from the river and groundwater, considering the current state of abstraction to be over allocated.

60.    The assumption for allocation in Tukituki Choices was to allow no more water to be abstracted and tightening the annual volume to be taken as a means of achieving that. One responder raised concerns about the seasonal allocation for irrigation.

61.    A key difference in the way Council will manage surface water allocation is that the instantaneous rate of take will the primary allocation tool, with the volume being the second tier allocation threshold.

62.    Further technical advice is being sought as to the impacts of the current rate of take from surface water, assuming all takes are occurring at the same time, on the degree of flow alteration (or flat-lining) that may result, and the impact of that on the ecology. 

63.    With respect to groundwater, an annual allocation is an appropriate parameter to use when managing aquifer systems.  The current Regional Resource Management Plan contains no allocation limits with respect to groundwater.  Groundwater modelling has provided an indication of the impact of current groundwater takes on river flows and  the technical advice received indicates that the impact on low flows and the ecology are not significant but that the level the minimum flow is set at is an important part of that consideration.  This advice is also being reconfirmed.

Groundwater Quality

64.    There is a concern that the land use changes resulting from irrigation will adversely affect the quality of the Ruataniwha aquifer as a potable drinking water source.

65.    The Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Sources of Human Drinking Water) 2007 (NESDW) is intended to reduce the risk of contamination in drinking water sources such as rivers and groundwater. It does this by requiring regional councils to consider the effects of activities on registered drinking-water sources  in their decision making, and to ensure that levels of determinands (as specified in the Standards) do not increase over the Maximum Acceptable Values (MAV’s) in drinking water after the existing treatment at the time of the consent application or plan change notification as a result of the proposed activities.

66.    Nitrate-nitrogen is one of the determinands for potable drinking water.  Managing nitrate concentrations for the protection of aquatic species more than adequately provides for the protection of drinking water supplies in rivers, acknowledging that such supplies are generally treated in some form.

67.    Nitrate limits will be set for the groundwater aquifers and groundwater capture zones have been identified for the Takapau water supply bore within which land use activities will be managed to avoid adverse effects on this drinking water source.

68.    Individual domestic water supplies relying on shallow unconfined groundwater are vulnerable to effects of land use activities.

Choice B

69.    The majority of the individuals who responded favoured Choice B.  This scenario set a nitrate concentration limit for the river to control periphyton to levels suitable for contact recreation.  It requires a significant reduction in the current levels of nitrogen leaching from the land and the economic modelling indicates that this would be at a significant cost to farmers and the local and regional economy ($40 million / year reduction in profit (after interest) and $20 million reduction in Regional GDP relative to current).

70.    Responders may not have understood the nature and extent of land use change, and the consequential reduction in the region’s current productive capacity necessary to achieve this scenario. Many appear to have a single focus been interested only in the environmental outcomes without considering the social and economic implications.  All of these factors need to be considered together in any decision-making under section 5 of the RMA and a balance struck between sometimes competing priorities.

Resilience and farming within limits

71.    A number of responders pointed to the need for farming systems, farmer behaviour as well as Council thinking to change to enable land use activities to be managed within the current limits of the environment and to be adaptable and resilient. 

72.    It is recognised that farming within water quality limits and the associated need to manage and monitor nutrient losses will require farmers to review their farming systems, whether storage proceeds or not. 

73.    It will also require the relevant industry sector to develop tools that farmers can use for nutrient management and the industry sector has indicated a willingness and commitment to work with farmers and Council in this area. 

74.    Farming systems evolve as knowledge increases and technology improves and changes.  In light of this knowledge, farmers make choices about how they farm.  Council’s role is to set the framework within which they make their farming decisions.

75.    Facilitating the provision of storage is one element of building resilience and the Council recognises that ‘smart’ farming systems are required to ensure desirable outcomes are achieved across all the well-beings.

Wind and soil erosion, and frosts

76.    Some responders noted that the soils are on the Ruataniwha Plains are very susceptible to erosion and that perhaps the focus should be on shelterbelts than irrigation to maintain soil and minimise moisture loss.  Council acknowledges that many shelter belts have been removed to make way for centre-pivot irrigation over the last ten years or so.  Pivots require a clear circle or part circle with nothing above 3-4 metres depending on tower heights.  Council will continue to work with farmers to minimise wind erosion, encouraging high wind break plantings where possible and lower internal plantings within pivot circles.  Irrigation of these plantings will enable them to establish quickly. New shelterbelts are already starting to be planted by farmers.

77.    Good agricultural practices such as minimum tillage will be pre-requisite to access to water from the Ruataniwha Water Storage.

78.    Frosts are not considered a significant limitation except for some horticulture. The feasibility studies have been largely based on land uses that are not susceptible to frosts.

Environment Court Decisions on Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council’s ‘One Plan’

79.    A number of responders asked what the implication of the Environment Court decision on the One Plan is on this process and the Tukituki plan change.  Hawke’s Bay Fish and Game Council referred to the One Plan as the model to follow for a framework for integrated land and water management and that Council was obliged to take note of it and implement the principles that the Court expressed.

80.    While aspects of the proposed water quality framework for the Tukituki catchment will be similar to the One Plan, and it is prudent to take account of the reasoning of the Environment Court, to the extent that the environmental issues are similar, Council’s legal advice is that the Council is not under a legal obligation to adopt the outcomes favoured by the Court in all respects, particularly where catchment specific characteristics provide grounds for a different approach. It is considered more important to reflect the need to set limits in a consistent manner reflecting the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.  Council should also be mindful of the recommendations from the Land and Water Forum processes.

81.    It is important that water management zones / values / water quality thresholds frameworks are based on sound science and management frameworks.

82.    It is noted that to understand the land and water management framework for the Tukituki catchment in its entirety, the proposed Tukituki Plan Change will need to be considered alongside the change to the Regional Policy Statement (Change 5), and the rest of the current RRMP.

83.    The framework for nutrient water quality limits in the Tukituki plan change will be based on good understanding of the catchment processes underpinned by advanced catchment modelling tools.  (It is noted that the One Plan process was not supported by the degree of catchment modelling that is available for the Tukituki catchment.)

84.    It is recognised that both nitrogen and phosphorus need to be managed to control periphyton growth to acceptable levels.  Based on our knowledge that phosphorus is the growth limiting nutrient in the main stem, phosphorus is targeted for reduction through improved wastewater treatment (which had already been recognised through that regulatory consenting process), through stock exclusion rules to minimise sediment discharges and through soil conservation and good agricultural practices.  Nitrogen loads will be managed to ensure nitrate levels in the rivers are within acceptable levels for the protection of fish and invertebrates.

85.    It is noted that some major river catchments in the Manawatu-Whanganui region show clear N-limitation (e.g. Rangitikei catchment and, to some extent Whanganui River). Parts of the Manawatu river catchment show N- or co-limitation in summer low flows. With nitrogen being the growth limiting nutrient, reductions in nitrogen leaching will reduce concentrations in the river. However, it is noted that the leaching limits in the One Plan will not actually achieve the water quality limit and therefore the desired outcome of low levels of periphyton growth.

86.    The One Plan decision does provide useful discussion on how nitrogen should be allocated to the land. It supports the use of the Land Use Capability system as a framework for spatial allocation.

Engineering Underpinning for Storage Project

87.    A number of responders queried/challenged engineering aspects of the Storage Project:  including hydrology, ability to refill the reservoir year by year, sedimentation rates, irrigation demand, susceptibility to high intensity weather events (and consequent risk of dam break and catastrophic consequential effects) and costings. 

88.    Those responders who went into the engineering reports to find support for their issues/concerns quote extracts from those reports out of context or without accompanying qualifications e.g. quoting the assessed effects of the Dam break Analysis (which are on any view alarming) without discussing or analysing the commentary on how unlikely it is that those effects will occur.

89.    One responder quotes extensively from one of the engineering peer reviews on the Water Resources component of the study without apparently appreciating that the peer reviewer was commending on a draft report and that subsequent analysis and refinement of the report largely addressed the reviewer’s initial concerns (refer the ‘Epilogue’ at the end of Appendix J of the Technical Feasibility Report).

90.    The iterative nature of the process might be seen as a strength rather than a weakness of the analysis.  Likewise, concerns about costings are understandable but fail to take account of the sophisticated analysis that means that cost savings are as likely as cost over-runs and that the latter risk is factored into the economic analysis.

Ruataniwha Water Storage Project

91.    A number of responses queried the engineering and economics of the storage project.  While the Council considered those as part of its decision making on the storage project, they are not directly relevant to the role of the Regional Planning Committee so have not been addressed here.

Decision-Making Process and Milestones

92.    Some responders sought a decoupling of the plan change process and the consent process for the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project. There also continues to be a misunderstanding as to the decision that Council would be making on 31 October 2012 with respect to the Ruataniwha Water Storage, with requests that a public referendum be held.

93.    Before Council determined that the plan change and any consent application for water storage should be determined by a Board of Inquiry via the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Council considered the strengths and weaknesses of a number of different decision-making models. Having both processes considered by a single decision-making entity enables all the relevant information to be available before final decisions are made on either project and it is still considered the most effective and efficient decision-making process.

94.    At the Council meeting on the 31 October 2012, it resolved to proceed with the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project to the consent phase.  This means that Council will be requesting the EPA to call-in the proposed Tukituki Plan Change so that it can be determined alongside the Storage consent applications.

Regional Planning Committee’s involvement in the Tukituki Plan Change

95.    While the Committee’s Terms of Reference is to make recommendations to the Council with respect to plan changes, we recognise that the Treaty Claimant Group members of the Committee have not been involved in the processes, community engagement and decisions over the past 3-5 years with regard to the Council’s approach to managing the land and water management issues in the Tukituki catchment.

96.    In that regard, those members might not feel that they are in a position to support any recommendations, particularly given a decision to adopt a proposed plan change is required in the next couple of months in order to align with the lodging of the storage applications with the EPA.

97.    If that is the case, it is still important that those Committee members have an opportunity to input into the draft plan change even if they have not reached a position to make a recommendations.

Decision Making Process

98.    Council is required to make a decision in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002 (the Act).  Staff have assessed the requirements contained in Part 6 Sub Part 1 of the Act in relation to this item and have concluded the following:

98.1.       The decision does not significantly alter the service provision or affect a strategic asset.

98.2. The use of the special consultative procedure is not prescribed by legislation.

98.3. The decision does not fall within the definition of Council’s policy on significance.

98.4.       The persons affected by this decision are all persons and organisations who made comments on Tukituki Choices, all residents and ratepayers within the Tukituki River Catchment and all persons with an interest in the region’s management of natural and physical resources under the RMA.

98.5.       Options that have been considered included proceeding to the formal statutory process without providing an opportunity for the wider community to comment on land and water management options with or without storage.  Tukituki Choices is a non statutory process that Council considered was important to underpin the formal processes and to guide policy development for the Tukituki plan change.

98.6. The decision is not inconsistent with an existing policy or plan.

98.7.       Given the nature and significance of the issue to be considered and decided, and also the persons likely to be affected by, or have an interest in the decisions made, Council can exercise its discretion and make a decision without consulting directly with the community or others having an interest in the decision.



That the Regional Planning Committee:

1.      Agrees that the decisions to be made are not significant under the criteria contained in Council’s adopted policy on significance and that Council can exercise its discretion under Sections 79(1)(a) and 82(3) of the Local Government Act 2002 and make decisions on this issue without conferring directly with the community and persons likely to be affected by or to have an interest in the decision due to the nature and significance of the issue to be considered and decided.

2.      Receives the report on Tukituki Choices – Responses.

3.      Endorses the key approaches for the development of the Tukituki plan change as resolved by Council at its meeting on 31 October 2012 and suggests any further approaches for Council’s consideration.





Helen Codlin

Group Manager

Strategic Development


Andrew Newman

Chief Executive




Summary of Comments




Summary of Comments

Attachment 1




Regional Planning Committee  

Wednesday 07 November 2012

SUBJECT: General Business        



This document has been prepared to assist Councillors note the General Business to be discussed as determined earlier in Agenda Item 6.



Councillor / Staff


















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