The High Court has dismissed an appeal by a non-legal entity against water extraction consents granted to a group of avocado growers in the Far North.
In 2018, independent commissioners appointed by the Northland Regional Council granted consents to the Motutangi Waiharara Water User Group, allowing its 17 members - mainly avocado growers - to take around two 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.
Far North resident Reece Burgoyne, representing the unit, relied on issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, State Owned Enterprises Act and the Regional Policy Statement as part of its appeal.
Both the NRC and avocado growers said the appeal was vexatious and frivolous in that it raised issues that were outside the Environment Court's jurisdiction.
Justice Paul Davison, in rejecting the appeal, said challenging a resource consent application was not an appropriate legal process for litigating land ownership that was better dealt with in the Māori Land Court.
He said Burgoyne's claim that some of the water users were overseas entities operating in breach of the Overseas Investments Act was proven to be untrue.
Burgoyne also claimed studies did not show where the recharge of the aquifer would come from and that the amount of water consent holders intended to take was a concern in terms of depletion of that resource and a threat of subsistence.
Justice Davison said Burgoyne has not proven how the issue affected the Environment Court's decision to grant the consents, subject to the various monitoring conditions it imposed.
The Kaimaumau-Motutangi wetland is the third largest peat bog system in New Zealand.
It covers about 4000ha, including a scientific reserve and conservation area.