Havelock North Drinking-Water Inquiry established

  • Christopher Finlayson

Retired Court of Appeal judge, the Honourable Lyn Stevens QC, will chair an independent inquiry into the Havelock North water supply contamination incident, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson announced today.

Justice Stevens will be joined on the panel by NZQA CEO and former Director-General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM, and local government and engineering expert, Anthony Wilson.

“The members of the inquiry panel have the extensive legal, public health, local government and water management expertise required to conduct an inquiry of this nature,” said Mr Finlayson.

The Inquiry will commence this week and report back by 31 March 2017. Under the final terms of reference, the Inquiry will focus on:

  • how the Havelock North water supply system became contaminated;
  • how this was subsequently addressed;
  • how local and central government agencies responded to the public health outbreak that occurred as a result of the contamination; and
  • how to reduce the risk of outbreaks of this nature recurring.

It will also consider any necessary changes to prevent or minimise similar incidents in the future.

The Inquiry will conduct an initial sitting in the Hawke’s Bay in the coming weeks.

Biographical details of panel members

The Honourable Lyn Stevens QC

Justice Stevens is a retired Court of Appeal judge, now based in Auckland. He has had a long and distinguished legal career. In addition to serving on the bench, he was the Crown Prosecutor and Partner at Auckland law firm Meredith Connell & Co, and a Partner at Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co. Justice Stevens was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1997 and holds a range of professional memberships. He was previously a member of the International Bar Association.

Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM

Dr Poutasi served as the Director-General of Health and has worked in senior management roles across the health sector. She is currently the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. She has been a Director of The Network For Learning Limited since 2 July 2014. She is the Chair of Basketball New Zealand and the New Zealand Committee for Harkness Fellowships. She received a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to health in 2006. Dr Poutasi also holds management qualifications from both the University of Otago and Harvard. She is a medical graduate specialising in public health and will bring significant public health expertise to the inquiry.

Anthony Wilson

Mr Wilson is currently City Engineer at the Wellington City Council, Chief Engineer for the Let’s Get Wellington Moving Alliance and alternate Group Controller for the Wellington Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group. He has extensive experience in municipal infrastructure, both in New Zealand and overseas, and has held responsibility for multibillion dollar asset portfolios, including essential and public services. He is a recognised leader in strategic asset management and has led the New Zealand water sector in the development of best practice. Mr Wilson is a past president of both the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand and Water New Zealand. He holds professional qualifications and memberships in the engineering and infrastructure management fields from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Mr Wilson will bring essential skills of senior local government management, governance and engineering expertise in water care to the Inquiry membership.