Monday, February 26, 2024

Delivering water resilience for Northland

The Government has delivered the first of three significant water security projects in Northland, with the opening of Matawii reservoir today.

Regional Development Minister, Kiri Allan says a $68 million Government investment supported the construction of the reservoir, along with two other water storage and distribution projects being developed by Tai Tokerau Water Trust in Kaipara and the Mid North.

Once the remaining projects are complete, Northland will have the infrastructure and water to develop approximately 7000ha of horticulture, creating more than 500 jobs and $400 million of annual regional output, the Minister said.

“The water storage projects will pump new life into these districts. As a result of the flood-and-drought cycle in Te Tai Tokerau, there needed to be a reliable water source to unlock the potential of the region’s land, which has rich soils and an incredible climate for horticulture,” she said.

“The Matawii water reservoir harvests water during peak flows to store for use during dry periods. When full, the reservoir retains 750,000 cubic metres of water – or 300 Olympic sized swimming pools. This project will facilitate a continued transition to higher value horticulture crops and to increased climate resilience in Northland.

“Although this summer was particularly wet, more frequent droughts and more variable rainfall are something we need to plan for to ensure our communities are positioned well for the future.

“Water plays an integral role in ensuring our regional economies are equitable, sustainable and productive. With many of our regions’ water allocation issues disproportionately affecting Māori landowners, this means the limiting of economic growth is felt disproportionately by Māori.”

Matawii was the first project to be approved through the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track consenting) Act. This ensured the vital piece of community infrastructure was able to be completed at pace, while providing immediate job opportunities during a time of great upheaval, the Minister said.

“The site was once a dairy farm and in just a few years, despite the Pandemic, the project transformed the land from paddocks to water.”

The reservoir is located in Ngawha, near Kaikohe, and will supply water to horticulture sites and the nearby Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park, as well as provide backup water supply for Kaikohe.

The Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park is due to open in coming weeks, thanks to $19.5 million financial support from the Government.

It brings together complementary businesses, from high-value primary sector producers to manufacturing outfits to research and development groups. Early site holders including Kaikohe Berryfruit and NorthTec / Te Pukenga.

“Our investment in Kaikohe has been about unlocking and enabling each of these assets so that together they can help this region thrive,” Minister Allan said.

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