Far North iwi building water storage

Construction is to start on a water storage development that will help a Far North iwi move their land to higher value horticulture, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

Shane Jones will today attend a blessing on the site where the small-scale water storage facility, funded by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), will be built on Te Rarawa land at Ahipara, near Kaitaia.

Construction starts on Monday, providing jobs for up to 40 people. The water storage facility should be up and running by the end of the year.

Te Rarawa’s asset holding, Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea Trust, received a $3 million loan from the PGF towards the project. This funding follows on from an $80,000 grant from the PGF to develop a business case.

“This latest investment will get some much-needed cash circulating in the region to help it recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the long term, having an improved and reliable water supply will make a real social and economic difference to this Far North community,” Shane Jones said.

The water storage facility will hold up to 350,000 cu m of water and will enable the iwi to transition about 300ha of land, currently used for dairy, to high-value horticulture.

“The shift to growing sustainable crops will be more labour intensive than dairying, leading to more jobs for locals,” Shane Jones said.

Water will be supplied to the water storage facility from the flood-prone Awanui River primarily by utilising existing infrastructure and the natural land formation to create low-cost water storage. The trust intends to harvest water during peak flows and store it for use during dry periods.

The funding will be used for excavation, installing additional booster pumps and water lines off existing water infrastructure, an electricity upgrade and capital costs associated with installing an additional water line to current dairying land.  

“With climate change the severity and frequency of droughts is expected to increase, and having a reliable water supply which stores water from the wet months will become increasingly important to provide resilience and support rural economies.

“Northland already has most of the key elements for a successful, high-value sustainable primary sector. A reliable water supply will help make this a reality,” Shane Jones said.

The PGF has committed around $70m for the Far North, Mid-North and Kaipara for water storage measures.