Local hapu are worried about the health of the Poroti water springs after the Whangarei District Council gave an Auckland company consent to build and operate a water loading facility there.

Whangarei District Council have given Zodiac Holdings (Zodiac) consent to build and operate a water loading facility at 649 Mangakahia Road which director Paul Thompson said is essentially a large shed that will enable tankers to be loaded from the rear with up to 30,000 litres of water.

The company already has Northland Regional Council consent to take up to 1.5 million litres a day from the Poroti Springs.

Millan Ruka, a trustee of Whatitiri Maori Reserve Trust which represents Te Uriroroi, Te Parawhau and Te Mahurehure ki Whatitiri hapu, said he was worried water levels will deplete.

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"Our whole issue with this is not just the building, not just the activity or the disruption of our community, it's always been about our water.

"They will endanger the level of our springs. The springs are the life source of our people, that's why we exist in Poroti," Ruka said.

Zodiac Holdings have been granted consent to build a water loading facility at this site. Photo/John Stone
Zodiac Holdings have been granted consent to build a water loading facility at this site. Photo/John Stone

Thompson, who said the loading facility could create up to 25 jobs, said the council had used an independent commissioner to assess Zodiac's application who determined it would have "no more than minor effects" on the local environment.

Initially Zodiac applied to build a mineral water bottling plant at 649 Mangakahia Rd but withdrew that application after an internal review that also looked at public and iwi submissions received on Zodiac's application, Thompson said.

He said Zodiac was continuing to work with Marsden Maritime Holdings, the port and other stakeholders and economic development agencies in Northland about a bottling operation in the region.

"While employment opportunities will necessarily shift from the immediate local area to the wider Northland business zone, Zodiac still sees its modified approach as a
practical win-win outcome for all parties and other stakeholders who have
participated in the consenting processes over the last 12 months," he said.

Meanwhile, Ruka said hapu had hired a hydrologist to determine the effects of water being taken from the springs.