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HBRC lays formal complaint with Radio New Zealand

Media Release

3 October 2013

HBRC lays formal complaint with Radio New Zealand

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has laid a formal complaint with Radio New Zealand over its recent reporting of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The complaint raises serious concerns over Radio New Zealand’s coverage around the draft Department of Conservation (DoC) submission on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

HBRC is very concerned that Radio New Zealand’s reporting has the potential to misinform and indeed mislead or confuse the public, including those making submissions as part of the Board of Inquiry process currently underway.

Between 17-26 September Radio New Zealand ran stories regarding (what was reported as) the apparent suppression by either the Minister or the Department of Conservation of a draft submission prepared by officers within that Department relating to the Tukituki Catchment Proposal.

Radio New Zealand reported that the draft DoC submission states that the nutrient management model for the Tukituki River is “untested and risky and could kill the Tukituki River” and found that “a Hawke’s Bay dam could make the Tukituki River toxic”. It also reported that “the dam, proposed for Hawke’s Bay, could make the Tukituki River toxic and kill threatened fish species”. It also reported that the draft submission said the dam could “poison the Tukituki River”. Radio New Zealand reporter Peter Fowler reported “Scientific experts point to established evidence that in its attempt to save the river the Regional Council could actually kill it”.

In its formal complaint to Radio New Zealand, HBRC says none of these statements have any basis in fact or within the draft DoC submission document. The words “kill” and “poison” or toxic” simply do not appear.

HBRC says while there is considerable public interest in the Tukituki Catchment Proposal, there is a judicial process underway and caution must be applied by all parties as to the manner in which the issues to be determined by the Board are discussed or indeed “contested” in the media. This also means HBRC is unable to effectively and fairly respond to allegations of the nature reported by Radio NZ other than to point to the fact that the issue is before the Board of Inquiry.

HBRC is very concerned that submitters and the general public may have been influenced to the point of being misled by the inaccurate, emotive and exaggerated reporting of the content of the draft Department of Conservation submission.

HBRC has asked Radio NZ to respond as a matter of urgency, given the timing of the matter relative to the Board of Inquiry proceedings.


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