Irrigation New Zealand

Media Statement – for immediate release


Today Irrigation New Zealand released its 2020 Election Manifesto. IrrigationNZ represents most of the country’s large irrigation schemes and has 3500 members across 800,000 hectares of New Zealand contributing $5.4bn of GDP. The manifesto puts the following requests to the New Zealand Government:

  • A national water strategy that guides the future of water management and investment across Aotearoa New Zealand - and asks that IrrigationNZ be at the table to contribute to this.
  • A focus on water storage to ensure our communities are resilient to climate change and to assist with land-use change to meet sure carbon targets
  • Policies that support irrigation and the environment, through monitoring, farm environment planning, innovation, and adaptation - and asks the government partner with IrrigationNZ to assist because of its ‘on the ground’ expertise.
  • A resolution to Māori rights and interests in freshwater - and offers support to iwi, hapū, and whānau groups about access to water and efficient, effective, environmentally sensitive irrigation development, where appropriate and beneficial.
  • An allocation framework that provides certainty and reliability of supply, whilst providing for multiple uses and benefits for economic, social, cultural, and environmental well-being.  IrrigationNZ can assist agencies with this policy work through its expertise in managing complex changes to allocation frameworks in catchments with multiple stakeholders and water uses.

    IrrigationNZ also states that it will support the sector and partner with Government, members and stakeholders to achieve the following:

    • develop a clear, recognised and unambiguous set of standards for irrigation
    • ensure efficient and effective water use that minimises adverse environmental effects
    • work to ensure widespread adoption of the irrigation standards
    • increase understanding of the benefits of irrigation.
    • support members in national and regional advocacy

    IrrigationNZ is offering to share its knowledge, expertise, and data to support the above in relation to:

    • farm environment plans and the freshwater modules within them
    • Water storage solutions
    • Water allocation issues

    “Freshwater use in New Zealand involves multiple aspects  and is integral to life, IrrigationNZ wants to see this precious resource better managed through the development of a water strategy for Aotearoa,” says Elizabeth Soal, chief executive of IrrigationNZ.

    “We are already seeing a focus on freshwater across various policy areas such as the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Fit for a Better World, Ministry for the Environment's Essential Freshwater policy package and the Department of Internal Affairs three waters’ reform and establishment of the drinking water authority, Taumata Arowai.

    “IrrigationNZ believes all these issues could be aligned with a water strategy to guide and lead decision-making and funding allocation at the central, regional, and local levels. This could be led by a bi-partisan, independent water commission.

    “As part of this, we would also like to progress a frank conversation with the Government and stakeholders about water storage and irrigation development which does not shy away from both the benefits and the impacts.

    “With primary industries the backbone of this country for the foreseeable future, and access to reliable water a critical part of enabling this, we must move forward and ensure the right investment and outcomes from best practice water management.”

    Irrigation New Zealand’s 2020 Election Manifesto can be found here:

    Further Comment: Ella Stokes IrrigationNZ Communications Manager – 0272086371

    Benefits of irrigation:

    ● Irrigation unlocks value for the benefit of all communities

    ● Irrigation reduces variability in quality across production systems

    ● Efficiency of land-use can be achieved with irrigation

    ● Responsibly-managed irrigation can lead to improved environmental outcomes. Water application can be measured, timed and managed to meet plant and crop requirements. Soil development and environmental habitat enhancement also result from irrigation. 

    ● Irrigation is a critical component for a resilient export-dependent nation.

        Irrigation and the environment

        Irrigation schemes have been the leading the implementation of catchment-base farm environment strategies and externally-audited, farm-level environment plans. This process ensures farms and growers have access to tailored, professional farm environment advice and are accountable for continually improving environmental outcomes over time.

        The irrigation sector acknowledges that there are both real and perceived impacts of intensive farming on water quality. Many irrigators take a proactive approach to improving environmental outcomes, including implementing audited Farm Environment Plans, and proactively monitor water quality.  They also work with Councils and the local community to improve water quality.

        The sector is well down a path towards good management practice and is committed to not only achieve, but better this goal. This will ensure our food and fibre production remains in demand globally whilst capturing local community support and further developing pride in New Zealand’s primary industries.

        Irrigation is a critical component of a vibrant and environmentally sustainable agricultural and horticultural economy and we will work hard towards ensuring that irrigation remains an integral part of a healthy and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand.

        Background on IrrigationNZ:

        We are a not-for-profit national-level organisation that represents around 3500 members across the irrigation sector, including irrigation schemes, individual farmer-irrigators, and the irrigation service sector. We support the critical role our members play in producing sustainable food and fibre for a healthy and thriving Aotearoa New Zealand. Irrigating farmers represent 800,000 hectares of New Zealand (seven percent of farmland) and directly contribute an estimated $5.4bn to GDP (20 percent of total agricultural and horticultural contribution). Irrigation schemes represent the largest number of water consents in agriculture and horticulture.