Fenton ‘Jong un’ Wilson is going to learn what utu means

The new Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was sworn in yesterday and they have a new chairman after Fenton Wilson discovered the Ruataniwha dam wasn’t really an election winner after all.

Rex Graham has been elected as the new chairman of Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

Rick Barker was voted in as deputy.

This morning, the council’s nine elected regional councillors were sworn in at the inaugural council meeting.

A large crowd gathered at the council’s Napier’s offices where Mr Graham was elected unopposed.

After being nominated by former chairman Fenton Wilson and seconded by Mr Barker, Mr Graham received a unanimous vote.

Mr Barker was nominated by councillor Alan Dick and seconded by councillor Neil Kirton, and was also elected unanimously.

The numbers against the dam are now six councillors to?three. All the supporters of Fenton Wilson are sidelined or gone.

Fenton Wilson is going to find out what utu means now. The days of secrecy and obfuscation are over.

There is one fly in the ointment, though. The duplicitous?Chief Executive of HBRIC has managed to weasel himself back into his old job.

Appointed to the role in 2007, Mr Newman was released in 2013 to head the council’s investment arm, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC) – which has been leading the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme project.

After three years away he has been “back in the seat” as council chief since last Monday – busy reacquainting himself with staff and working through the organisation’s issues and opportunities.

And today he will have the chance to meet the new regional councillors at the council meeting.

As a result of the election – labelled as a referendum on the Ruataniwha Dam – it has been touted that the new council will lean more against the project than its predecessor.

When asked, Mr Newman said he would not have an opinion on the new council until he had met with the new councillors and knew who the chairman was.

“My job is to serve the council,” he said, “so I’ve got to go through a process of really working with the council to understand their agenda they wish to pursue, and then work with the team at the council to organise that.”

He would say that having served a number of councils and a number of chairmen over the years “there’s always been some change and that’s a healthy thing in a democracy”.

Some of that utu needs to be delivered onto Andrew Newman too. One commenter at HB today noted:

It’s rich that this individual can spout about healthy democratic processes when he actively avoided any disclosure to Hawkes Bay ratepayers about the RWSS project and it’s financial status and expenditure. I think he should be gone by lunchtime.


The dam is dead, it is now just some processes to go through to finally find the off ramp from the doomed project. The first step would be to sack the directors of HBRIC to stop any further business being conducted then look at winding back the silly and dopey decisions that lead to the waste of millions of ratepayers dollars on an ill-conceived?boondoggle.


-HB Today