A small rural community in Canterbury was vandalised overnight this weekend.

Locals in the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme (CPW) area woke up on Saturday to discover more than 50 centre pivot irrigation tyres had been drilled or slashed, while at least two farmers' milk was let out of the vat.

Posting on social media, one local said it was "a sad day to be a New Zealander" and lamented what she saw as growing divide between urban and rural communities.

"It's a sad day because these... protesters just let a vat full of milk flow straight into a river causing horrendous environmental damages. It's a sad day because not only will they not understand the magnitude of what they have done, now we all have to suffer the consequences and pray that it stops here," she wrote.


Derek Crombie, chief executive of the Central Plains Water Enhancement Scheme, said at least two incidents were confirmed, including a farmer's milk being let out of a vat, and tires being drilled on another separate farm.

"It's not a nice situation," he told the Herald.

Crombie said he will know more about the incident and potential further vandalism by Tuesday.

The CPW project is the largest of several irrigation schemes receiving funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The project has a total construction cost of about $385 million and will provide water to about 60,000 hectares on the Canterbury Plains, according to its website.