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Water – the essence of all life – Mauri Tū

9 November 2021

The Waimea Dam under construction.

Various government departments are looking at water – the Ministry for the Environment and a Ministry for Primary Industries as you would expect.  But also the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, through Our Land and Water, and the Department of Internal Affairs through the Three Waters reform

For years, HortNZ has pointed out that New Zealand doesn’t have a water shortage – we just have a shortage of water storage, with most of the water that falls from the sky going out to sea and in extreme weather events, doing a lot of damage on the way through.   

To increase water storage – particularly in areas the most affected by climate change – the Government needs to cut through Resource Management Act red tape and look at innovative ways to fund investment in water storage.   

Water storage policy and funding need to pivot to be about climate change resilience, guardianship responsibilities and the transition to low emissions economy; rather than just being about jobs and pure economic metrics.   

The Government accepts and acknowledges that horticulture can deliver on its strategic outcomes, which is a positive signal.  Therefore, growers can have a level of confidence, when considering long term investment decisions. 

On the chess board of water allocation, HortNZ is focused the Government policy that will come into effect in 2024, which will set the direction for water decision making for the following 15 years.   

Recent weather events  

The flooding in Gisborne and high winds in the Eastern Bay of Plenty have affected several growers.   

Feedback to date is that the impact on vegetable production in Gisborne can be managed but this will depend on how the weather behaves in the next few days. Reports are that some kiwifruit growers are forecasting up to 90% crop loss and being aware of PSA risk is something to consider.    

Zespri and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated are available for advice if there is uncertainty.  In addition, do not hesitate to contact the Rural Support Trust and FarmStrong.  They are well-versed in providing advice and helping growers and farmers stay connected in times of added stress and uncertainty.