Fast-tracked Northland water project will accelerate economic recovery

  • Hon David Parker

The Government has welcomed the decision to approve a new water storage reservoir in Northland, the first of a number of infrastructure projects earmarked for a speedy consenting process that aims to accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

 The Matawii Water Storage Reservoir will provide drinking water for Kaikohe, and support Northland’s horticulture and agriculture sectors.

 Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust says the 750,000 cubic metre water reservoir in the upper catchment of the Kopenui Stream, east of the township of Kaikohe, will be used to supply water for town supply (residential, commercial and industrial uses) and irrigation.

Environment Minister David Parker said this was the first project approved by an Expert Consenting Panel under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act 2020.

“This project, and others like it earmarked for fast-track consenting, will accelerate our economic recovery from Covid and create jobs. It demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to investment in our regions,” David Parker said.   

“This project meets all the requirements under the fast-track consenting process to promote employment and support our economic recovery, while protecting environmental standards and Treaty of Waitangi principles.  

“Northland’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The construction of the reservoir will have a positive effect on employment in the region, and the increased supply of water to the area will have the knock-on effect of assisting other investment prospects to help us build back stronger.   

“This project will establish a supply of clean fresh water that will open up opportunities such as increased horticulture that will flow through to benefit other sectors of the community. This is an important part of our recovery plan, investing in projects that both create jobs now and set up further economic development opportunities for the future.” David Parker said.  

The applicant estimated that there could be an increase in GDP of $9 million a year and an additional 60 full-time equivalent jobs - representing a 2 per cent increase in employment in Kaikohe and its immediate surrounding area. 

The decision to approve the project was made by an Expert Consenting Panel led by former Environment Court Chief Justice, Laurie Newhook. The decision was made in 55 days from the time the application was lodged with the EPA, around half the time it takes for a similar consent to be granted under the Resource Management Act consenting process.   

Projects to be considered under the fast-track process are referred in two ways: those listed in the Act or those referred by the Minister for the Environment through an order in council.  

More information about the Matawii decision is on the EPA website. More information about applications for fast-tracking through the Order in Council process is on the Mfe website.