A cultural impact assessment on an application to extract more than 100,000 litres of water per day from a bore on Whanganui's Anzac Parade reveals local hapū concerns about the proposed water bottling operation.
The application to the Horizons Regional Council was made by Aquifer 182 Holding Company Limited in 2019 but was placed on hold by the council after the council requested further information related to the application.
The additional information, including a cultural impact assessment, has since been provided to the council.
In a cultural impact assessment undertaken by Poipoia Limited on behalf of Ngā Hapū o Te Rūnanga o Tūpoho, the collective body states that they "oppose [the application] in its entirety".
The group said in the assessment that despite assurances from the applicant that the collection of water from the bore would be unlikely to have any effect on the Whanganui River, it failed to consider the whakapapa connection local Māori had to the wai (water).
"All water in the rohe is culturally and historically connected to each other," the assessment stated.
"Assessing the cultural values and cultural impacts is an important part of gauging the full effect of this activity, especially on the mauri of the water and Whanganui River."
Additional information provided to the application states the company has engaged with Ngā Tāngata Tiaki and Te Rūnanga o Tūpoho.
The Chronicle is seeking comment from Aquifer 182's directors.
The application for a resource consent is currently out to the public for submissions, which close on March 5.
According to the application, the company is seeking a 27-year permit to extract water it intends on marketing to kitchens and high-end customers.
"The applicant aims to bottle and ice the groundwater abstracted for distributing purposes to national and international markets. The expected numbers of bottled water are not yet known," the application stated.
"However, the applicant aims to bottle water into a range of plastic bottles sizes (starting at 20 litres), targeting the restaurant and large hotel kitchen market, bottle water into glass bottles (starting at 250ml) targeting the smaller high-end restaurant market and harvest and pack ice into consumer packs targeting both retail and foodservice customers."
The report states that the company has recently acquired the property at 182-183 Anzac Parade, where three existing bores are in place, all of which have been capped since 1993. Two of the bores have a depth of under 245m, while the third sits at a depth of 75m.
Hapū kaiwhakahaere John Maihi said there was an ongoing process to determine a final position on the application, but there had been a wide-ranging discussion.
"There are hapū that have put in their thoughts regarding supporting [the application], as long as there is some benefit to the hapū.
"At the moment it's still in the balance. The hapū have to give a final assessment or final agreement, and we're hoping to deal with that very shortly."
Maihi said that as it currently stood, a large proportion of hapū remained opposed to the idea.
"It's an ongoing process."
According to the application, the company only intends to utilise one of the two deeper bores.
Despite the application requesting consent to bottle up to 107,000 litres per day, the company intends to utilise only 150,000 litres per week initially, gradually rising to 750,000 litres per week "as the company matures over time".
The applicant states that any adverse effects on groundwater levels would be minimal, with the natural artesian discharge rate sitting at 7.26 L/s after 24 hours, or nine times the average rate of abstraction proposed in the application according to a recent flow test. This means the use of mechanical pumps won't be required.
The application also states that the collecting of the water is not expected to have any effect on the Whanganui River.
"Given the significant difference in depth between the aquifer and the base of the river and the number of aquitards and other aquifer units separating the two, there are unlikely to be any effects from the proposed abstraction on the river."