Hawke's Bay hoping water issues are under the bridge post-election


It is over a year since an E. coli outbreak in the water supply hit thousands in Havelock North, but residents still don't trust what is in the taps.

This time last year Hawke's Bay was still reeling from a deadly campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North.
Source: Breakfast

On the streets of the small town many still buy bottled water.

One resident said, "We should be able to turn on the tap and know that we aren't going to get poisoned."

Many hate the taste of the now chlorinated supply.

Up the road in the city of Napier, residents have sympathy, as they too have chlorinated water after multiple positive E. coli tests.

Some think it should have been prevented.

"It was just beautiful water, so it's a shame it has to come to that, hopefully things can be fixed up so we don't have to have chlorine in our water."

"It shouldn't be an issue here in Hawke's Bay with the artesian aquifer we've got here going on."

Meanwhile water bottling companies continue to send millions of litres of that bay water overseas, for free, which riles many up the wrong way.

"We are running our own business and we are paying our taxes for the business so I think if their business is bottling water then they should have to pay tax on the bottling of water as well," a resident said.

Labour has plans to put an end to that charging a per litre levy, but it is their plan to tax water users in the booming horticulture and farming industries that has put plenty on edge.

Lesley Wilson, the President of Hawke's Bay Fruit Growers' Association, says the tax is unfair on the producers of some of New Zealand's most renowned produce.

"At the moment it's not going to break the bank but there was a time in the recent history of the region, it would have, and who is to say one cent two cent doesn't turn into 20 cents in two or three years' time."

Away from water, the region is struggling to grapple with a rise in homelessness with people hoping the next government can lift more out of poverty. 

Michelle Pyke from the Community Housing Action Team (CHAT) says the failure to rebuild recently demolished state housing is to blame.

"They've got to start building the state housing stock or social housing to relieve the pressure on the private market because that is the biggest bulge, a lot of the focus is on homeless people but homeless people could be people on couches."

Jacinda Ardern announced recently in Napier that Labour would build 240 new homes for both first home buyers and for state housing across the region.

National and Bill English say it will continue to support the growing region by developing State Highway 50 between Napier and Hastings into a four lane road of national significance. 

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