Whakatāne iwi appeal water bottling consents

6:04 pm on 5 July 2018

A Whakatāne iwi is asking for the Environment Court to decline a Chinese owned company the consents to 1.1 billion litres of water for bottling.

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Photo: rnz

Last month, the government gave approval for Creswell New Zealand - owned by Chinese company Nongfu Spring Co Limited - to buy land near Whakatāne for a $42.5 million expansion of its current bottling plant.

Resource consents were then granted by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Whakatāne District Council.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, which represents 22 hapū of Ngāti Awa, unanimously support the appeal against the consent.

The annual extraction is set to come out of the Awaiti aquifer in the Rangitaīki and Tarawera rivers and in the rohe of Ngāti Awa.

Three existing water bottling companies Otākiri Springs, Oravida and Distinction water are already taking water from the Awaiti aquifer.

Te Runanaga o Ngāti Awa chief executive Leonie Simpson said they were "seriously concerned about the irreversible harm to this aquifer, the people and the land, and the undermining of our status as kaitiaki and tangata whenua."

"Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa remain concerned about the current consent regime where regional council continue to grant consents for water bottling despite no regulations existing.

"The ability for Nongfu to purchase this water bottling operation has been enabled by the government, despite iwi, hapū and community opposition."

"At every turn, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa has had to advocate for transparency and accountability by local and central government, namely making the consent hearing public, and the participation of hapū, iwi and community in decisions that affect us," Ms Simpson said.

Ms Simpson said Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa were seeking to progress discussions with the Crown.

Creswell managing director Michael Gleissner acknowledges there was three appeals against the granting of the resource consents.

These are from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, the Ngāti Tūwharetoa (BOP) Settlement Trust and the neighbour group Sustainable Otakiri.

"It's important we have a robust process to ensure the right decisions are made and these appeals are part of that process," Mr Gleissner said.

"We're going to take our time considering their filings and we remain open to talking with all the parties concerned while this process continues."

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