Justice Paul Davison has reserved his decision on an appeal against consents granted to the Motutangi Waiharara Water Users' Group to take up to more than two million cubic metres of water a year from the Aupouri aquifer.
The appeal, described by the MWWU as vexatious and frivolous, is against consents granted to the group's 17 applicants last year by independent commissioners for the Northland Regional Council, for 600ha of new avocado orchards at Houhora, Motutangi and Waiharara.
Ngati Kuri's Te Taumatua Ngati Kuri Research Unit unsuccessfully challenged the commissioners' decision in the Environment Court, then went to the High Court.
Reece Burgoyne, on behalf of the research unit, told the High Court last week that the appeal relied on issues relating to the Treaty of Waitangi, the State Enterprises Act, and the NRC's regional policy statement, while Houhora man Eric Wagener, assisting Mr Burgoyne, said the Environment Court could not rule on land ownership and had not adequately protected the aquifer.
Andrew Green, representing the consent holders, said Mr 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. All the council and the consent holders had heard was that Mr Burgoyne had concerns about the effects of granting the consents, but he had not presented supporting evidence, Mr Mathias said.