Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water

Report of the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry:  Stage 2

Download the full Report (released 6 December 2017)



On 12 September 2016, the Government announced that an Inquiry into the Havelock North water supply contamination incident would be held.

The Inquiry members appointed are Hon Lyn Stevens QC (chair), Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM and Anthony Wilson ED*.

The Inquiry follows the widespread outbreak of gastroenteritis in Havelock North in August 2016, with more than 5000 people falling ill, following the confirmation of the presence of E. coli in the water supply.  Testing through the health system led the Hastings District Council and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board staff to suspect that Campylobacter as the primary infectious agent.

Drinking water supplies across New Zealand rely on different methods of take and treatment, depending on the nature and security of the water source.  Drinking water supplies are regulated under the Health Act 1956 and the source of drinking water is regulated under the Resource Management Act and National Environmental Standards for sources of drinking water.  The National Environmental Standards are given effect to by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. 

New Zealanders expect that water reticulated to their homes and businesses for drinking purposes will be safe to consume and use. The Havelock North water contamination incident has risked damaging public confidence in local drinking water supplies.

The Inquiry will report back by 31 March 2017 and 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
  • 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.

It is expected that the Inquiry will conduct an initial public hearing in the Hawke’s Bay in the coming weeks.

Announcement of Inquiry news release

The full news release from Attorney-General, Hon Christopher Finlayson, announcing the establishment of the Inquiry on 12 September 2016 can be found here

Inquiry members

The three inquiry members are Hon Lyn Stevens QC (Chair), Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM and Anthony Wilson.

Honourable Lynton Stevens QC (Chair)

The Honourable Lynton (Lyn) Stevens QC is a retired Court of Appeal Judge.  He graduated BA LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1970 and obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 1972.  He taught at the Faculty of Law, University of Auckland in 1970 and from 1974-84, and was an Assistant Professor of Law  at the University of British Columbia from 1972-74.

Before being appointed to the High Court Bench in 2006, he was a Crown Prosecutor and partner at Meredith Connell & Co from 1976, leaving to join Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co as a partner in 1980.  He was appointed as a Prosecutor on the Serious Fraud Office Panel in 1990.  He joined the Independent Bar in 1992 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1997.  He was a Judge of the High Court for four years before being appointed as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of New Zealand in 2010.

He was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Australian Capital Territory and the States of Victoria and New South Wales. He was also a Barrister in Samoa and the Cook Islands. 

Dr Karen Poutasi CNZM

Dr Karen Poutasi is a medical graduate specialising in public health.  She has previously served as the Director-General of Health, and has extensive experience in senior management roles across the health sector.  Dr Poutasi is currently the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, a Director of The Network For Learning Limited, the Chair of Basketball New Zealand and Chair of the New Zealand Committee for Harkness Fellowships. Dr Poutasi received a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to health in 2008, and holds management qualifications from the University of Otago and Harvard University.

Anthony Wilson ED*

Anthony Wilson is an independent consultant specialising in municipal infrastructure. Until June 2017 he was the City Engineer at the Wellington City Council, a Group Controller for the Wellington Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group and the Chief Engineer for the Let's Get Wellington Moving Alliance.  Mr Wilson is a past president of both the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand and Water New Zealand.  He has led the New Zealand water sector in the development of Best Practice and has extensive experience in municipal infrastructure, both in New Zealand and overseas.  Mr Wilson holds professional qualifications and memberships in the fields of engineering and infrastructure management from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Contact the Inquiry

The Inquiry has completed its work, and delivered its report as required by its terms of reference.

Any inquiries should be directed to