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Greenpeace lobbies ACC over Ruataniwha

NZN 7/09/2016 Jonathan Underhill

Former Green Party co-leader and now Greenpeace New Zealand director Russel Norman has appealed to ACC not to commit the state-owned accident insurer's funds to the Ruataniwha Dam project.

ACC has declined to comment on rumours it has conducted due diligence on the $275 million project, which would store water in the upper Makaroro river for agricultural use in the Tukituki River catchment.

Infratil-controlled Trustpower pulled the plug on its involvement in early 2014, followed by its other private backer, South Island iwi Ngai Tahu.

Greenpeace has been running an ongoing campaign against the scheme and Mr Norman also fought against it while in the parliament with the Greens.

On Thursday he called the scheme "a lemon" and linked the outbreak of a gastro outbreak that sickened more than 5000 people in Havelock North to the increase in intensive farming and the deterioration of waterways.

"It makes no sense for an organisation dedicated to returning New Zealanders to good health to invest in something that puts public health at risk," Mr Norman said in a letter to ACC investment manager Nicholas Bagnall that was released publicly.

"Nor is it consistent with the fiduciary duty of the ACC board".

Institutions involved in green-lighting the project risked leaving a national legacy of freshwater pollution that would affect generations to come, he said.

ACC, which has $35 billion on its books, is one of the biggest investors on the NZX.

Its investment objectives include having to consider the ethical implications of its investments.

In June, the NZ Law Society's ACC committee convenor Don Rennie wrote that potential ACC investments in Kiwibank and Ruataniwha raised "interesting legal questions about the nature and purpose of ACC, how the scheme is being administered and whether the investment of surplus levies is justified".

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