Hawke's Bay's wine industry is welcoming Fish & Game NZ's application for a conservation order to protect the waters of the Ngaruroro River.

The application was lodged this week by Fish & Game on behalf of Forest and Bird, Jet Boating NZ, Whitewater NZ and iwi group Ngati Hori ki Kohupatiki.

If granted, a water conservation order (WCO) would protect the upper Ngaruroro catchment above Whanawhana in its near-natural state, the mainstream of the Ngaruroro River from Whanawhana to Waitangi Estuary in its modified state, and the Clive River in its modified state.

Hawke's Bay Winegrowers chairman Michael Henley said the region's wine industry was founded on the pristine waters of the Ngaruroro River and the soils that had been deposited by it across the Heretaunga Plains.

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Access to the waters of the Ngaruroro was critical to the future of the Hawke's Bay wine industry, he said.

"Hawke's Bay wines are renowned for their fruit purity and depth of character, all of which comes from the water and soil of the Ngaruroro River and the four other rivers that make up the Hawke's Bay landscape," he said.

Mr Henley said the wine industry has been a "responsible steward" of the water resource to date, and this was acknowledged by the application. "But we are constantly looking for ways to improve our environmental performance," he said.

If successful, it would be only the 16th of New Zealand's hundreds of waterways to be protected by a WCO, the highest level of protection that can be given to a river or lake.