Topics: Environment, Native Affairs

Native Affairs – Selling our water - 427 million litres at $943

By Renee Kahukura-Iosefa
  • South Island

A South Island iwi hope their freshwater spring will gain environmental protection after a local council granted a water bottling company consent to take 208 million litres a year for $470.

Already in the Tasman district, four water bottling companies have consent to take water from the area – at more than 427 million litres at a cost of $943.

In 2005, Tasman District Council gave Kahurangi Virgin Water Ltd consent to extract water near Te Waikoropupu Springs, which has one of the clearest freshwater in the world.

The company has yet to take any water from the sacred site and have applied for an extension. Local iwi Ngāti Tama was initially involved with the original resource consent but were not consulted about the extension and took the council to the High Court.

Ngāti Tama spokesperson Margaret Little says the springs need to be preserved and their court action was funded by the iwi’s Treaty settlement.

“The settlement has given us the financial backing to take them to court whereas before it would have been really difficult,” Little says.

Earlier this month, the Government announced it will consider giving the springs the highest level of conservation protection and grant it the same status as a national park.

Ngāti Tama says commercial demands from irrigation, farming and consent to take water from the Waikoropupu catchment are putting the resource under threat. 

Andrew Yuill a local scientist and co-applicant along with Ngāti Tama say Te Waikoropupu is worth protecting for all New Zealanders.

“The clarity of the water was measured at a sight path of 63 metres which is almost unheard of. It has been a taonga for millions of years. It has its own life-force its own mauri and it is something which I respect greatly.”

Community Relations Manager Chris Choat from the Tasman District Council says the decision from the High Court means the council will now have to reconsider Kahurangi Virgin Water Limited’s application for a resource consent to draw water near the Te Waikoropupu Springs.

Below is a breakdown of how much water each company can take and the annual cost. Information provided by Tasman District Council.

New Zealand Mineral Water

  • Consent to take, 18 million litres per year at a cost of $190. B Reilly
  • Consent to take, 331,240,000 litres per year at a cost of $370. Johnstone  
  • Consent to take - 76,388,000 litres per year at a cost of $190. Thompson
  • Consent to take – 1,820,000 litres per year at a cost of $193.