Consent to sell spring water has lapsed

By Lindy Laird

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Millan Ruka.
Millan Ruka.

The resource consent to build a privately owned commercial plant capable of bottling 2.4 million litres a day from Poroti Springs is dead in the water.

The existing consent relating to the extraction factory's earthworks and building has lapsed.

By late Friday afternoon, Whangarei District Council had not received an application to renew the controversial building consent for Zodiac Holdings, owned by New Zealand Spring Water.

The council's media relations manager, Ann Midson, said the 15-year-old consent would not be extended. Should the company want to continue with its plans to build the plant, it would require a new resource consent application.

That prospect has been welcomed by Whatitiri Maori Reserve Trust (WMRT) which was disappointed that last year a variation of the original 2001 consent was approved for the company to increase the footprint of its proposed factory, without the matter being publicly notified so objectors could have their say.

Zodiac Holdings holds a Northland Regional Council-approved resource consent to tap into the aquifer that feeds Poroti Springs and extract up to 2.4 million litres a day but WMRT spokesman Millan Ruka said that without a bottling factory the water-take consent was largely defunct.

"It is good news," Mr Ruka said of the lapse of the consent.

"At least if they do apply again we can all have our say."

Mr Ruka said the Poroti Springs water rights matter had been contentious since 1895, when three local hapu were recognised as the owners of springs and the site they surface on. "Yet for $600, at the stroke of a pen, that water can be given away and sold overseas and our three hapu were not included in any of the process."

Zodiac Holdings' parent company has been trying to sell the water company and its product - not one drop has yet been extracted from the springs - in China.

This week the Waitangi Tribunal announced it would hear the second stage of water claims with the New Zealand Maori Council.

- Northern Advocate

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