The Tukituki river is a beautiful, seemingly flawless braided river flowing through the central Hawkes Bay. As she flows past Te Mata Peak, she is picture-postcard perfect. But in the summer, low water levels and farm run-off often result in her being choked with toxic algal blooms. The regional council think they can solve this by reducing the amount of water being taken from the river by nearby farms, but the demand for water remains.

The proposed Ruataniwha Dam further up the catchment has been touted as a solution to the water demand problem.

However, the dam will have devastating results for the environment, including more pollution for the Tukituki and loss of habitat for native species.

With irrigation and water storage schemes comes more intensive agriculture, and with that comes water pollution. See our guide to what causes water pollution here.

Forest and Bird, EDS, Fish and Game and the Green Party have led the charge against the Hawkes Bay Regional Investment Company, the regional council’s economic development arm, who are behind the dam project. Forest and Bird have pointed out the loss of habitat for native fish, as well as a unique forest, home to native birds and animals.

The Department of Conservation has been missing in action; instead of advocating for the protection of nature, they are doing a land swap to help the dam project go ahead.

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