Iwi headed to court over water bottling consent

Photo: Charlotte Jones / LDR/RNZ.

A Whakatane iwi and an environmental group are appealing a court decision allowing China's largest water bottler to take more than a billion litres of groundwater a year.

Creswell NZ, a subsidiary of Nongfu Spring, received resource consent to expand its Otakiri Springs plant south-west of Edgecumbe about 18 months ago.

The Environment Court declined an appeal to overturn the consents in a two to one majority last month, and Ngāti Awa is now taking an appeal to the High Court alongside environmental group Sustainable Otakiri.

Creswell's consent allows it to increase its bottling capacity by almost four times to 5000 cubic metres a day.

Ngāti Awa chief executive Leonie Simpson says it's extremely concerned about the effects of the extra bottling on the Awati Aquifer, which is in the iwi's rohe.

"As kaitiaki and tangata whenua we must be included in decisions about our taonga and on issues that affect us in our rohe," she says in a statement.

Sustainable Otakiri chair Maureen O'Kane says our purest and cleanest water should be reserved for New Zealand.

"That is the water that these major companies are going after and that's the water that is making New Zealand a plastic creation nation. We will be renowned for this if we keep heading down this path. It's just too much and our government is doing too little."

Creswell NZ says in a statement last month the Environment Court decision was the right one and would deliver much-needed benefits to the community, particularly new jobs for locals.

The company also played down concerns from Environment Commissioner David Kernohan, who was the dissenting voice in the court's decision, that the extra bottling would lead to more single-use plastics being produced.

"We're actually at the forefront of global research and development of solutions to distributing water without plastic," says the company's managing director Michael Gleissner.

Michael says the company had been advocating for a comprehensive recycling scheme in New Zealand for several years and reducing waste remained a key focus for the company.

"We use recycled PET in New Zealand and advances in technology means the average weight of resins in our bottles has reduced by nearly 50 per cent since 2000," he says.


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Posted on 22-01-2020 20:36 | By morepork

Jobs are important. Investment is important. But more important than any of these is our right to determine our own future, and ensure that we manage the resources we have, so that our future generations can also use them. Water is a critical resource that is going to become even more critical in the coming years. China has a history of quietly buying essential resources all over the world. They expand their investment to the point where they can affect political decisions which may be taken by an elected Democratic Government. Money is becoming power, and if we become dependent on overseas investment we are giving away our independence and freedom. The scale of this operation is more than could be considered reasonable, and it is foolish and short-sighted to condone it. It should be blocked, or, capped in perpetuity to a reasonable amount which the country can spare.

Does not sound right

Posted on 19-01-2020 21:09 | By Womby

Whoever originally signed off this consent appears to have not considered the overall picture re the amazing amount of plastic bottles produced to be filled and exported overseas. Surely it is not a forever consent. This is why we have a government

Water taken overseas

Posted on 19-01-2020 12:24 | By eye's up

We have now seen in Australia what happens when China and big business has a free hand with water theft , the same is happening here and sadly in Whakatane , our politicians and local councils are allowing this and need to be held personally accountable .


Posted on 19-01-2020 12:11 | By hapukafin

Good luck IWI,right behind you,hope you win.Enviro court not looking after Kiwis

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