Iwi raise concerns about water take plans near treasured Te Waikoropupu Springs
Ngati Tama ki Te Waipounamu is considering legal action over concerns sparked by water takes approved near Te Waikoropupu Springs in Golden Bay.
Ngati Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust chairwoman Leanne Manson said the iwi had lodged an appeal in the Environment Court over a resource consent granted to Gunsboro Ltd that followed a hearing before Commissioner Emma Christmas in November.
The Gunsboro application sought a water permit to take water from the Waingaro River at a rate of 19,450 cubic metres a week for irrigation. The water permit was to be amalgamated with an existing allocation of 10,550 cubic metres a week resulting in a total area to be irrigated of 100 hectares at a rate of 30 litres per square metre a week. It was granted with conditions.
Manson said Ngati Tama was due to go to mediation over the appeal in May.
The iwi was also seeking legal advice on how to challenge Tasman District Council decisions relating to plans by Kahurangi Virgin Waters Ltd to take groundwater from the Takaka Confined Marble Aquifer for bottling.
Late last month, resource consents manager Phil Doole, under delegated authority from the council, granted an application by Kahurangi Virgin Waters to extend the lapsing period of a consent to take water to May 31, 2018. It is the third extension of the lapsing period since the original consent was granted in February 2005 to take 4032 cubic metres a week.
Manson said Ngati Tama believed it should have been notified as an affected party. The iwi had responsibility as kaitiaki (guardian) to protect the water in and around Te Waikoropupu Springs near Takaka, she said.
"We are unanimous in our support for trying to protect the springs and the aquifers that feed this."
The iwi believed its role extended beyond Te Waikoropupu Springs themselves to Fish Creek, Dancing Sands and other waterways surrounding the treasured site.
"There are a lot of small springs outside the reserve, under the ground," Manson said. "Our position as kaitiaki of the area is to preserve it ... to stop it being commercialised."
It was a site of great importance.
"It is hard for me to describe how we feel about it," she said. "It's such a serene, beautiful place; it's peaceful and tranquil."
Manson said she did not think many residents of Golden Bay were aware of Kahurangi Virgin Waters' plans, which included the intention to install a second bore.
The latest council decision says the planned new bore "is expected to be addressed as a controlled activity, for which consent cannot be declined".
In a memo to Golden Bay Community Board chairwoman Carolyn McLellan, Doole says there appears to be a misunderstanding about the decision making on the lapse period of a consent.
"An application to extend a lapse period is not an opportunity to reconsider the consent, unless there have been changes to the relevant objectives and policies of the TRMP [Tasman Resource Management Plan] that change the context on which the consent was granted," he says. "The matter I had to consider was whether any persons will be affected by the additional time sought to implement the consent, not the effects of carrying out the authorised activity to take water from the Confined Marble Aquifer. Physical and cultural effects of the proposal were matters to be considered when the application was being considered in 2005."
Manson said Ngati Tama planned to introduce a water management plan for whole area to protect the springs and the waterways around them from commercialisation and the potential effects of climate change.