Te Awamutu's water treatment plant is nearing opening after local iwi gifted the water from the Waikato River during a karakia last Tuesday.
The new water supply project includes the upgraded Parallel Rd water treatment plant near Cambridge, and the Te Rua Kotāre (Taylor's Hill) Reservoir in Te Awamutu. They will future proof Te Awamutu, Pirongia and Ōhaupō's water supply for the coming years.
Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest said the karakia marked a significant step in the project. "It is fantastic to see this facility completed and today marks a tremendous occasion in our district's history, as we work to safeguard our water supply for generations to come."
He appreciates the support from iwi to gift the precious resource to Waipā. "It will ensure we have a safe, resilient and reliable water supply that will nourish our communities into the future."
The council began building the new supply pipeline in October 2019, which had significant delays, including a month-long shut down because of the nationwide level four Covid-19 pandemic response, and restrictive measures at level three.
The water treatment plant upgrade began in June 2020 and is ahead of its end October 2021 completion date. After the karakia, water can now begin to enter the new water treatment plant and pipeline so staff can begin the final steps to commission the plant for full operation.
The gifting of the water from the Waikato River by Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Waikato-Tainui was received by Ngāti Apakura for Waipā iwi.
The karakia took place at both facilities in the new supply line. The water will now journey from the Waikato River into the Waipā district's water supply, where it will reconnect at Ngaruawahia via the Waipā River catchment.
Ngāti Koroki Kahukura representatives, Taiapa Kara, Poto Davies and Rangipuhi King, Ngāti Apakura representatives Professor Tom Roa, Hazel Wander and Barney Manaia, Ngā Iwi Topu o Waipā chairwoman Gaylene Roberts, attended the dawn ceremony, along with Mylchreest, Waipā iwi relations adviser Shane Te Ruki, staff and contractors who worked on the project.
Roa and Te Ruki acknowledged the precious gift of water from one body of water and local iwi to another – "He matahīapo te ora; he matahīapo te wai" Life is infinity precious; water is basis of life."
Mylchreest said the improved water supply is expected to reduce the need for higher water restrictions in the Waipā but, with increasingly dry summers, some alerts may still be expected.
"It is still important to conserve this precious resource, particularly over the summer months."