A group of avocado growers say an appeal challenging water extraction consents from the largest wetland in Northland is both vexatious and frivolous.

Independent commissioners appointed by the Northland Regional Council last year granted consents to the Motutangi Waiharara Water User Group, allowing its 17 members - mainly avocado growers - to take around 2 million cu m of water annually.

The water from the Aupouri aquifer will be used to nourish 600ha of new avocado orchards at Houhora, Motutangi and Waiharara.

Te Taumatua Ngati Kuri Research Unit based in Mangonui unsuccessfully challenged the commissioners' decision in the Environment Court, then went to the High Court.


This week in the High Court, Far North resident Reece Burgoyne represented the Ngāti Kuri Research Unit and relied on issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, State Enterprises Act, and the Regional Policy Statement as part of its appeal.

Northland avocado growers seek urgent appeal hearing

Eric Wagener assisted him in court and said the Environment Court could not rule on land ownership and did not adequately protect the water.

Andrew Green, representing the consent holders, said Burgoyne's notice of appeal did not raise any questions of law and was vexatious and frivolous.

But NRC lawyer Graeme Mathias said the Environment Court did not have jurisdiction on matters of land ownership and that matters relating to the Treaty and the State Enterprises Act were not part of that court's consideration.

He said all NRC and the consent holders have heard was that Burgoyne had concerns about the effects of granting the consents but he has not presented the supporting evidence.

The Kaimaumau-Motutagi wetland is the largest in Northland and the third largest peat bog system in New Zealand. It covers about 4000ha, including large areas designated as scientific reserve, and a conservation area.

Justice Paul Davison has reserved his ruling.