A second appeal against an increased amount of water being taken from Otākiri Springs is being considered by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.
Last week, independent commissioners released their decision granting the application by Creswell NZ Limited to increase the amount of water taken by the Otākiri Springs bottling plant to an annual allocation of 1.1 million cubic metres of water.
The Save our Otakiri Water and Environment Group had already announced it would appeal the decision to the Environment Court.
Runanga chief executive Leonie Simpson said a moratorium on all water consents within the rohe (area) was supported by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa. "Supported until hapū and iwi interests in water allocation, use and quality are agreed between hapū, iwi and the Crown," Simpson said.
"As Treaty partners, we assert that the Crown recognise our rights and interests in freshwater. These interests include property rights.
"Resolution of these complex issues needs to be by way of robust dialogue and negotiation between Treaty partners."
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa opposed the application by Creswell NZ and, according to Simpson, assessing a potential appeal on this decision. "Our concerns over the consent application remain unchanged.
"Article Two of Te Tiriti o Waitangi guaranteed to hapū and iwi the exclusive undisturbed possession of taonga and resources. This possession is severely undermined by the granting of these consents. The Crown must engage with hapū and iwi to rectify before any territorial or local authorities make decisions on water consents."
The water quantity plan change process being undertaken by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council is complicating the matter further, Simpson said.
"How can the regional council make an informed decision on water consents when it doesn't have regulations for water bottling activities, substantive scientific evidence about groundwater quantity or appropriate guidelines for water allocation from groundwater aquifers in this area?
"Continuing to issue water consents while the Rangitaiki Water Management processes are incomplete, and developing Plan Change 9 without the involvement of hapū and iwi, is, in our view, extremely irresponsible, and unnecessarily risks irreversible harm to our taonga and resources."
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa remained concerned the current consent process ignores hapū and iwi interests as a Treaty partner, and that legislative requirements were regularly not complied with. Simpson said any plan changes were premature pending the Waitangi Tribunal WAI2358 National Freshwater Inquiry.
In 2012 Ngāti Awa along with other iwi signed the Mataatua Declaration on Water.
"Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa are clear on our interests in freshwater and strongly recommend that the Government places a moratorium on all water consents in our rohe so that prudent decisions can be made for setting limits on water quantity and water quality that reflect hapū and iwi interests and values, protect our taonga, cement our status as kaitiaki, and provide for future generations.
"Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa is calling on other iwi organisations and groups to join us to develop a collective approach to compel the Crown to work with hapū and iwi to develop appropriate ways to recognise and provide for hapū and iwi interests in freshwater, and participate in decision-making for freshwater allocation, use and quality management as a priority."