Water is expected to start flowing on Monday through a new pipeline aiming to relieve Kaitaia's water crisis.

The pipeline takes bore water from iwi-owned Sweetwater Farms directly to the council's water treatment plant on Okahu Rd.

Kaitaia's town supply has relied entirely on the Awanui River but after a long run of dry weather the river is now little more than a trickle.

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The new pipeline is a combined effort by the Far North District Council, contractors and iwi, paid for by the government's Provincial Growth Fund.

It starts at Bonnetts Rd, on the western outskirts of Kaitaia, where it taps into Sweetwater Farms' irrigation system, which is fed by a bore 5km further north. The new pipes and pumps then take the water another 4km to Okahu Rd.

Broadspectrum project supervisor Rick Low told Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who visited the site on Thursday, there wasn't enough 250mm-diameter pipe in the country to build the 4km pipeline. Waiting for a new shipment would have delayed the project by three months.

Instead they had laid two 125mm pipes side by side. Staff at New Zealand company Marley worked double shifts to produce the 8km of pipe needed, he said.

The 2500ha Sweetwater Farms, a joint venture with Pamu (formerly Landcorp), is owned by Te Hiku iwi Te Rarawa and Ngāi Takoto.

Manager Mark Johnson said the irrigation system bringing bore water to Bonnetts Rd was built by the farm owners three years ago in anticipation of future droughts.

Diverting part of the farm's water supply could mean drying off cows early or buying in extra feed, unless significant rain fell soon.

The farm would be able to recover its costs from the council but it was not a money-making venture, he said.


Te Rarawa chairman Haami Piripi said the project was a ''fantastic point of convergence between all parties''.

''There were no barriers, no obstacles. Everyone is committed to the same objective.''

Meanwhile, a second pipeline from the council-owned Sweetwater bore is also nearing completion.

That water will be piped to storage tanks and a water tanker filling station on Bird Rd, Awanui, with the aim of taking pressure off Kaitaia's town supply.

Council spokesman Richard Edmondson said that pipeline was also due to be commissioned on Monday and the first tankers were expected to fill up on Tuesday. The final hurdles to be cleared involved disinfecting and cleaning pipes.

Further south, 3km of pipeline, pumps and holding tanks had been installed as part of a plan to pump water from iwi-owned Lake Ōmāpere to Kaikohe's Taraire Hills water treatment plant.


Edmondson said some modifications were required at the plant — which was challenging, given that it was running almost 24 hours a day — and the Northland District Health Board needed to sign off the council's cyanobacteria management plan in case the lake was hit by another algal bloom.

Lake Ōmāpere is prone to toxic algae. The last major bloom was in early 2018.

If all went to plan, the lake could be supplying Kaikohe by next weekend, he said.

Another option being examined for Kaikohe was shifting the Wairoro Stream intake, which supplies most of the town's water, further downstream where the stream was boosted by tributaries and springs.

Once the two Kaitaia projects were complete, the council could throw all its resources into resolving Kaikohe's water issues, Edmondson said.