Irrigation New Zealand

IrrigationNZ believes that a fair outcome has been reached in regard to the Water Conservation Order (WCO) sought for the Ngaruroro river in Hawkes Bay.

On Friday, a Special Tribunal (set up under the Resource Management Act) to review the application for the WCO for all of 164kms of the Ngaruroro river and seven kilometres of the Clive river, reported that it would grant a conservation order for part of the Ngaruroro river only. This is for the upper part of the river but not the lower part nor the Clive river.

“The high level of protection for the upper part of the Ngaruroro does not come as a surprise to us as it is a beautiful and special river,” says Elizabeth Soal, chief executive of IrrigationNZ.

“However, we are pleased to note the practical caveat by the Tribunal that provides for future climate change resilience and allow for future innovation. Off-stream water storage and augmentation schemes and the ability to abstract water at high flows can be considered, subject to resource consents and except as specifically excluded by the WCO.

“In addition and rightly so, as part of the WCO, prohibitions and restrictions will prevent damming or altering the flow, protect water quality and provide for fish screens in that upper part of the Ngaruroro River.

“We are also pleased that the hard work the TANK group has undertaken in Hawkes Bay to find consensus on the best way to manage the land and waterways of the Tūtaekurī, Ahuriri, Ngaruroro and Karamū catchments has been taken into consideration by the Tribunal as part of the Water Conservation Order process,” says Ms Soal.

IrrigationNZ notes that the report issued by the Tribunal also acknowledged that the water quality of the upper Ngaruroro is very high and that the water quality in the lower Ngaruroro is very good - despite that it is a lowland river draining a rural catchment.

“There is always a fine balance between protecting our beautiful natural assets and allowing for practical ways forward which support our grass-roots communities,” says Ms Soal, “hopefully this outcome provides for all the values in the catchment.

“IrrigationNZ believes that consensus can be reached on managing New Zealand’s precious water resource for the benefit of all, and is working hard with members and stakeholders to make this happen,” concludes Ms Soal.


Following an application for a Water Conservation Order over the entire length of the Ngaruroro River, the tributaries and hydraulically connected groundwater, and 7km of the Clive River sought by New Zealand Fish and Game Council, Hawkes Bay Fish and Game Council, Operation Pātiki Ngāti Hori Ki Kohupātiki, Royal Forest & Bird Society of New Zealand, Whitewater NZ and Jet Boating New Zealand, a Special Tribunal set up under the Resource Management Act considered all the submissions and heard evidence in hearings at Napier at various times between September 2017 and March 2019. That Special Tribunal has issued its report and recommendations to the Minister for the Environment for his consideration.

In the upper part of the Ngaruroro river the Special Tribunal has found that the habitat for rainbow trout, the rainbow trout fishery, the angling and recreation amenity, the whitewater kayaking and rafting amenity and the wild and scenic and other natural characteristics are outstanding values that warrant this high level of protection.

Further information can be found here.


Elizabeth Soal


Phone 021 454 615