Newsroom - Water to decide the battle for Tukituki

Lined up in a muddy park in Clive, hundreds of tractors sit in perfect, uniform rows.

There are giant, glistening green John Deeres, shiny red Massey Fergusons and tiny, rusted vehicles whose branding has long worn off.

Their owners are milling around, eating sausages and ice cream.

They’ve come together near the Clive River to protest one thing – water use.

Today it's a Water Conservation Order (WCO) that has the farming and horticulture communities riled up.

The application by five conservation and recreation groups would see water limits introduced on both parts of the Clive and Ngaruroro rivers, something those gathered to protest say will decimate both their livelihoods and the Hawke’s Bay region.

“The thing is, water is Hawke’s Bay, that’s what makes it what it is,” says tractor mechanic Wayne Martin.

“There’s a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes that these guys in offices don’t see.”

Tractor salesman Trevor Sandilands (left) and tractor mechanic Wayne Martin protesting a proposed Water Conservation Order in Clive on Tuesday. Photo: Shane Cowlishaw

Martin is at the rally with friend Trevor Sandilands, who sells tractors.

The pair believe that unless the issue of water is dealt with by locals, the whole region could come crashing down.

Across the country water has become one of the main election issues, but in Hawke’s Bay it’s been a flashpoint for some time.

A massive gastroenteritis outbreak in Havelock North’s water supply in August last year was national news.

It saw about 5500, or more than a third, of the town’s residents fall ill, put 45 people in hospital and was linked to three deaths.

A panel investigating the outbreak found both the Hastings District Council and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council had failed in their duties leading up to the event.

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