IrrigationNZ CEO says the boards final decision means Hawke's Bay can finally move forward


"It is a relief to be at the end of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process for the development of a much needed dam in the Hawke’s Bay," says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

"The Hawke’s Bay community has been waiting for this decision from the Board of Enquiry of the EPA for a year and following three iterations we are finally able to move forward.

"Water storage and its related infrastructure will boost and stabilise Hawke’s Bay making it an alternative vibrant migration option for those currently flocking to Auckland for work.

"Struggling communities such as Waipukurau and Waipawa will particularly benefit from the resulting economic growth. They will have a bright and vibrant future.

"The dam will also provide huge recreational and environmental benefits to the Tukituki guaranteeing minimum flows for aquatic life during drought years whilst providing flushing flows to prevent future algal blooms," says Mr Curtis.

Forest & Bird welcomes the Board of Inquiry's decision over the Hawke's Bay Ruataniwha Dam.


Forest & Bird is welcoming the rejection of changes to the consent conditions being sought by backers of the Ruataniwha Dam in Hawke's Bay. The Board of Inquiry found the changes would "undermine the environmental outcome the condition seeks to achieve".

In a final decision released today, the Board confirmed a consent condition that requires irrigated land associated with the Ruataniwha Scheme to be managed in a manner consistent with achieving a stringent nitrogen limit by 2030. Much of the catchment is already well over the nitrogen limit.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s investment arm, HBRIC, asked the Board to change that condition to an obligation for the dam company to use its "best endeavours" to meet the limit, and to compare the dam’s impact to a "baseline" of current nitrogen levels. These moves were opposed by Forest & Bird, Fish & Game and the Environmental Defence Society. The Board found in favour of the environmental groups, confirming that: "if the scheme is a material contributor to an exceedance of the DIN limits and targets in that table, the use component of the consents is be managed in a manner consistent with achieving those targets and limits by 31 December 2030. Hence the inclusion of Condition 12A in the draft decision."

The Board found that the changes sought by HBRIC would undermine the environmental outcome the condition seeks to achieve and could not be reconciled with the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The Board also inserted a new condition enabling the Regional Council to review the process for individual farmers’ Management Plans, to ensure that the Scheme is operating in a manner consistent with achieving the nitrogen limit by 2030.

Legal counsel for Forest & Bird, Sally Gepp, says the Board’s comments and the changes made to the final conditions further strengthen the suite of consent conditions by making it entirely clear that any farmers who sign up to take water from the dam are not exempt from the nitrogen target. "HBRIC Chair Dr Andy Pearce has previously stated that farmers using irrigation water from the Ruataniwha Scheme are not required to manage their farming practices in a way that means that they are not contributing to a violation of the nitrogen limit by 2030. The Board has made it perfectly clear that Dr Pearce’s interpretation is wrong, and the 2030 nitrogen limit does apply to farmers who sign up to this Scheme", Ms Gepp said.

Forest & Bird is considering the remainder of the Board’s decision carefully.

Join the epic battle between new world and old at the Chruch Road Winery in Napier.


Join us for an epic battle between new world and old at Vive la Revolution this Saturday, June 20th at Church Road Winery.

Church Road Winemaker Chris Scott will bring his bottled best to go head to head with Geoff Wilson of Convivium who has enlisted some equally impressive French counterparts.

The Church Road special line-up includes past vintages of TOM, including the coveted Tom Cabernet Merlot 1998, whilst weighing in the Convivium corner are wines such as 2009 Cos d'estournel from one of Bordeaux’s very best vintages.

We love a bit of healthy competition and debate so we’ll be tasting the wines blind.

Guests will be invited to rank the wines to see whether NZ or France wins the battle!

Come and test your palate, sample some amazing wines and enjoy delicious platters made by Dish, all in the company of Chris and Geoff.

Tickets are seriously limited so get in quick, this one will be a cracker! -http://fawc.co.nz/programme/events/event-details?eid=301022

World experienced sommelier joins Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay.


One of the country’s most experienced sommeliers has been appointed customer experience manager at Craggy Range Winery in Hawke’s Bay.

Advanced sommelier Michael Bancks is working towards becoming New Zealand’s second only Master Sommelier and returns to Craggy Range after three years in France.

Formerly manager of Craggy Range’s Terrôir Restaurant for six years from 2004, Bancks was awarded the title of Sommelier of the Year at the Culinary Fair in 2008 while in that role.

During his time in France Bancks developed his fine wine and hospitality skills as maître d’ at three Michelin Star restaurant of famed chef Michel Guerard at Les Prés d’Eugénie. Les Prés d’Eugénie served as the inspiration for Terrôir Restaurant after Terry and Mary Peabody shared a memorable meal at the estate.

At Craggy Range he is responsible for the visitor hosting programme showcasing the winery’s unique experience to visitors and key influencers from around the world. He is also responsible for managing the cellar door.

Bancks says he is delighted to be coming home to Hawke’s Bay, one of New Zealand’s most popular food and wine regions.

"I am really enjoying being home in the Bay and very much looking forward to working with the Craggy Range team again. It was a tremendous three years in France where I was fortunate to be under the patronage of such a brilliant restaurateur as Michel Guerard.

"Working in an establishment that has famously held three Michelin Stars continuously since 1977 has provided a wonderful benchmark for my career. Craggy Range wines are inspired by the old world styles I have experienced in France but nurtured in the finest new world terroir and I am excited to share the Craggy Range philosophy with visitors from around the world."

Craggy Range Chief Executive Officer Michael Wilding says everyone is delighted to welcome Michael back to the Craggy Range team.

"Michael’s passion and experience as both a sommelier and maître d’ brings enormous credibility to the role. The visitor hosting programme is an integral component of growing our brand globally and we look forward to extending our hosting programme, creating and launching more layers to our Craggy Range experience over the coming months.

"Michael always has been a phenomenal Craggy Range ambassador and truly understands and shares the Craggy Range philosophy, so we are very fortunate to have him leading our visitor hosting programme and the cellar door."

Michael Bancks took up his role at Craggy Range in May.

Hastings City Night Market returns for Matariki celebration.


The Hastings City Night Market is back for a one-off winter market to celebrate the Matariki festival on Wednesday 17th June. The Hastings City Mall will come alive from 5 until 8pm with numerous diverse street food trucks, free entertainment and arts and crafts.

The rising of the star constellation known as Matariki is an important time in the Māori calendar. It heralds in the Māori New Year, which is a time to connect with, and give thanks to the land, sea and sky. It is also a time for the community to come together and acknowledge the year gone by, as well celebrating and preparing for the year ahead involving the sharing of food, rituals, entertainment, hospitality and knowledge. The Night Market will be an ideal start to the celebrations, and one all the family and community can enjoy together.

The evening’s entertainment will come in the form of ever popular covers band Generator, on stage from 5.30 til 8pm. This five-piece rock show will have you dancing all night with songs you know all the words to. The Karamu High School choir will also be performing from 5-5.30pm. The market will be also be a chance to see the new CBD lighting in all its glory and there will be free glow sticks for the kids to add the fun.

Whatever your taste in food you will find the market a gastronomical delight with something for everyone from nachos to paella, Asian and Indian influenced food, pizza and amazing ice cream. Wandering from stall to stall until you find something that takes your fancy is half the fun. The locally made arts and crafts hidden amongst the food stalls are also popular with market goers; there’s always something unique to be found.

Susan McDade from the Hastings City Business Association, who organise the event, said "We are very excited to be back for this mid-winter Night Market celebrating the wonderful Kiwi festival of Matariki. If last year’s market is anything to go by, it will be a strong draw card for all the family to wrap up warm and get together with their community for an evening of free fun and entertainment. The event really brightens up winter when we all tend to hibernate a bit. We are expecting a busy night!"

The market will open at 5pm on Wednesday 17th June in Hastings City Mall, by the fountain.

Hawke's Bay's Nick Picone appointed Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker


Nick Picone has been appointed Villa Maria Group Chief Winemaker, after 18 years with the winery. The position oversees all of Villa Maria Group’s winemaking which includes: Villa Maria, Vidal Estate, Esk Valley, Te Awa Collection, Thornbury, Riverstone and Wise Owl.

With several prestigious awards to his name including an Australasian award for Young Winemaker of the Year, Nick has been responsible for making hundreds of the winery’s global trophy and medal winning wines for many years.

CEO Sir George Fistonich said he couldn’t have hoped for a more highly skilled person for the position, "He’s an extremely talented winemaker with an exceptional palate and has demonstrated a natural ability with wine right from the start of his career. Fostering talent in our industry is something I’m passionate about and I’m proud to have seen Nick develop his skills over the years working in all of our winemaking regions. Throughout our 54 year history my focus has always been on creating the highest quality wines and we’ve achieved this through selection of the best vineyard sites, but also seeking out the very best people and Nick is without a doubt one of the New Zealand wine industry’s shining stars".

Nick brings a wealth of experience to the position. Raised in Hawkes Bay, his first wine job was at boutique producer Esk Valley Estate, from there he moved to Marlborough and then later to Auckland to oversee Villa Maria’s Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne winemaking. In 2006 he spent time working for Villa Maria’s international distributor Hatch Mansfield in the United Kingdom, followed by a vintage at GD Vajra in Barolo, Italy. He has also completed two vintages at DeLoach vineyards in California, USA.

Nick’s winemaking awards and achievements:

2014 - Listed in an international selection of ’30 winemakers under 40 to watch’ by the Drinks Business UK.

2013 - Awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ New Zealand International Wine Show.

2012 - Awarded Wine Society Australasia ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ becoming the first New Zealander to be awarded in the competition’s 12 year history.

2011 - Awarded joint winner ‘New Zealand Winemaker of the Year’ Royal Easter Wine Awards.

2004 - Awarded the New Zealand Yalumba scholarship to attend the Len Evans Tutorial. There were 12 places available one of which was available to a New Zealander.

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