Ngāti Awa disappointed with High Court ruling on water bottling

A High Court ruling has upheld an Environment Court decision to allow the extraction of 1.1 billion litres of water from the Otākiri aquifier by Creswell New Zealand Limited, a subsidiary of Chinese soft drink company Nongfu Spring.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa say they are extremely disappointed with the decision and opposed the original consent by appealing the Environment Court decision in July this year.

Ngāti Awa argued that the bottling of water from Otākiri in the Awaiti Canal Aquifer groundwater catchment would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai – the life force of the water – and render Ngāti Awa unable to be kaitiaki.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “It is impossible for us to act as kaitiaki for a resource once it has gone. Once this water is removed from our rohe it will never return.”

Joe Harawira, Tumuaki (Chairman), Ngāti Awa says: “The mauri of our wai is harmed through Creswell’s application.  Successive governments have also failed to address the very real issue of water rights in New Zealand. Why are we exporting our purest water when our own people living in Whakatāne, Murupara and Kawerau drink water of the lowest acceptable quality for human consumption? Why are we giving our water away for free to overseas companies whose shareholders will be the main beneficiaries?  And why are we supporting a proposal to build a manufacturing plant with the capacity to create 1,800 single use plastic bottles per minute?”

Ngāti Awa are considering their options following the judgement.