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Council bungs the borehole proposal

A recommendation by Wellington Water to progress putting a borehole in a Greytown memorial park commemorating war heroes has been unanimously knocked back by a local council committee.

Five South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] attendees were at the hearings committee convened to discuss the issue, including Mayor Martin Connelly.

The other committee members were SWDC councillors Alistair Plimmer, Kaye McAulay, Rebecca Gray, and Pip Maynard.

All five voted against the recommendation to progress the proposed bore and pump at Soldiers’ Memorial Park in Greytown, during an extraordinary SWDC meeting on Wednesday about the proposal.

Reasons for voting against the proposal included strong opposition from Greytown community members, a need for decisions about water infrastructure to take a wider and more holistic view of the South Wairarapa community, and the quality of the consultation process undertaken by Wellington Water prior to its recommendation being made.

Many attendees spoke of the need to consider the water needs of Featherston, and other water infrastructure, as well as Greytown itself, in making such decisions. The vote has been welcomed by Greytown community leaders, who spoke at the meeting in opposition to putting the borehole in the park.

Member for Greytown ward, Councillor Plimmer asked, “This is a war memorial. If we can’t respect our war memorials, what are we doing here?

“As a returned serviceman, I am passionate about protecting the legacy of those who went before me. I don’t think Wellington Water understood what the war memorials mean to small communities. It’s personal for these families.”

Plimmer echoed the views of the other committee members when he noted, “We need to take a more integrated view of the district as a whole. I think Wellington Water needs to start thinking strategically about decisions that affect South Wairarapa District Council.”

The quality of the consultation on the issue done by Wellington Water was questioned by the committee, with members observing only four written submissions had been received – all of them opposing the proposed borehole site.

The committee also noted that on other topical matters in the town where consultation had occurred, many more written submissions had been received, indicating the methods employed by Wellington Water in seeking community views might not have been as effective as they could have been in reaching affected people and groups.

The park is used by local sports groups and is next to a swimming pool and campground. It is bordered on one side by trees planted to commemorate the town’s WW1 soldiers.

The park dates back more than 100 years to 1919, when local residents and Greytown Borough Council bought it as a war memorial. A stand of original native trees remains, a remnant of the totara, matai, and ribbonwood that once covered much of Wairarapa.

The recommendation will be considered by the SWDC Infrastructure and Services committee at its meeting next week when a final decision on the matter is expected to be made.

– NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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