A Havelock North resident has organised a protest march as the town struggles to recover from the contamination of the town's water supply.
About 400 people turned up to a public meeting at the Riverbend Bible Church last night to hear officials talk about the campylobacter outbreak that has made more than 5000 people ill in the past three weeks.
Bayden Barber, a local consultant who is also standing for council, is organising a protest march from Havelock North to Hastings on Saturday.
He said the hikoi was to remind everyone of water's importance. "You can't operate without fresh water, our rivers can't be swimmable if they're polluted."
He said water was simply too important for people to be getting sick from like that.
The meeting was the first chance for residents to directly question representatives of the district and regional councils and the health board.
District mayor Lawrence Yule again apologised for Hastings District Council's failure to supply residents with safe drinking water.
"On behalf of the councillors and the staff, we apologise for this and deeply regret the inconvenience, misery and financial implications of this contamination," he said.
But residents demanded to know what the council would do if it happened again to make sure everyone was alerted as soon as possible.
Carol Winters from Age Concern said many of their older members were unaware the water supply was contaminated "until bumping into people in the street".
She asked how the council would give crucial public health messages older people older than 70 "who aren't computer literate and don't have access to social media".
Mr Yule said that problem became apparent within the first few days of the contamination, and now whenever the council had to chlorinate the water, the media would be told "within an hour".
Paul Rooney from Village Kids said the 100 under-five year olds at the child care centre were scared to drink water out of a tap. "Are you going to have a programme in place to educate these children?"
Hastings District Council chief executive Ross McLeod said it was hoped the boil water notice could be lifted this week, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Authorities were keen to help people recover, he said, and as a show of good faith the council had waived the next water bill.
Mr Yule said that would cost ratepayers $300,000.
But he ruled out one woman's suggestion of a $200 cash payment to each Havelock North household, which he said would cost the district $1.2 million.
Officials will be fronting up to a second public meeting tonight.