Havelock North: 'Come and visit'

  • 31/08/2016
The town supply has been chlorinated and a boil notice remains in place (Getty)
The town supply has been chlorinated and a boil notice remains in place (Getty)

If you want to help those hit by the contamination crisis in Havelock North then go and visit - just don't talk about the water.

Most in the picturesque Hawke's Bay town, dotted with cafes, wine bars and restaurants are keen to move on from the contamination which hit earlier this month leaving 5100 - a third of the population - sick from gastric illness.

"It's a terrible thing that happened but we're back to normal," one local dairy worker said, adding that he was sick of the negativity and mud-slinging surrounding the issue.

Most of those NZ Newswire spoke to in the town said they wanted a different story told than what they'd heard for the past few weeks - that the water is safe and visitors are welcome.

The town supply has been chlorinated and a boil notice remains in place but most, if not all, bars, cafes and restaurants are serving and using bottled water.

"It's business as usual... come out, have fun and support us," Sarah Watson, who owns wine and tapas bar Deliciosa, said.

However, despite the upbeat outlook most have, there's no getting past the fact that the contamination has hit local businesses badly.

Ms Watson said weekend trade was down 60 percent because locals were too sick and those from out of town were too scared.

"It's been really financially stressful," she said.

"We're coming into our summer season which is our major time for income and if the tourists stop coming to the wineries or to the concerts or to the events it has a massive knock on impact for every business."

A woman who works at a clothing store said the numbers coming through the door were down significantly.

Other local business owners who attended the first of two public meetings on Tuesday night said they too had been hit hard and called for more compensation.

The council and Government have each offered $100,000 as part of a recovery package.

Hospitality New Zealand Hawke's Bay president Shaye Bird echoed the message, saying that things were starting to get back to normal.

"People are feeling much more positive now but they've had a tough few weeks," he told NZ Newswire.

"It crippled Havelock North. A week ago it was a ghost town but we're starting to get on top of it."

Mr Bird said he couldn't put a figure on how much businesses had lost but said many were hurting, especially hotels and motels.

Some businesses have managed to get by without much of an in impact including a local cafe which immediately brought in filtered water.

Last weekend about 100 people were brought in from Napier for a bar/restaurant-crawl to support local businesses and boost morale.

Mr Bird summed up the message from locals eager to move on: "Come and visit - there's absolutely no reason why you wouldn't. We're open for business".