Ngāti Awa disappointed with High Court ruling on water bottling


Ngāti Awa disappointed with High Court ruling on water bottling

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa), are disappointed with the High Court’s decision to uphold the Environment Court’s earlier decision to allow Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), a subsidiary of Chinese soft drinks giant Nongfu Spring, to extract 1.1 billion litres of water annually from the Otākiri aquifer in the Awaiti Canal Aquifer groundwater catchment, largely for export.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa (Ngāti Awa), the post settlement governance entity for the Ngāti Awa, has opposed the consent since the application was lodged by Creswell.  It filed an appeal against the Environment Court’s decision to the High Court that was heard in July this year. 

Ngāti Awa argued that the bottling of water from Otākiri would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai – the life force of the water – and render Ngāti Awa unable to be kaitiaki.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “It is impossible for us to act as kaitiaki for a resource once it has gone. Once this water is removed from our rohe it will never return.”

Joe Harawira, Tumuaki (Chairman), Ngāti Awa says: “The mauri of our wai is harmed through Creswell’s application.  Successive governments have also failed to address the very real issue of water rights in New Zealand. Why are we exporting our purest water when our own people living in Whakatāne, Murupara and Kawerau drink water of the lowest acceptable quality for human consumption? Why are we giving our water away for free to overseas companies whose shareholders will be the main beneficiaries?  And why are we supporting a proposal to build a manufacturing plant with the capacity to create 1,800 single use plastic bottles per minute?”

Ngāti Awa are considering their options following the judgment.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Bianca Ruakere: 021 453189

Ngāti Awa
Ngāti Awa are the descendants of Te Tini o Toi, the original inhabitants of the Eastern Bay of Plenty region, and the people who arrived on the Mataatua waka. Today Ngāti Awa represent 22 hapū and have 19 marae. For more information please visit the website:

Nongfu Spring
Nongfu Spring is China’s largest supplier of packaged water and ranks as one of the top 20 beverage companies in China. They were founded in 1996 and are headquartered in Hangzhou, Zheijang Province, China. Creswell New Zealand Limited are a subsidiary of Nongfu Spring. A recent sale of shares in Nongfu Spring was the most oversubscribed IPO in Hong Kong’s history and raised more than US$1.1 billion in cash. The company owner Zhong Shanshan briefly became China’s richest man with a personal net worth of around US$57 billion:

Nongfu Spring sell around 15 billion bottles of water a year.  Discarded bottles from Nongfu Spring brands are routinely found polluting oceans and shores around the globe:

For more information please visit the website:

Update on Whakaari – He Rā Whakamaumaharatanga

Update on Whakaari – He Rā Whakamaumaharatanga

One year on from the 2019 Whakaari eruption, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa with support from Māori Television will remember the lives lost and acknowledge the efforts of many during the tragedy.

Special iwi commemorations will be held on December 9 in Whakatāne at Te Mānuka Tutahi Marae and will observe the exact moment of the eruption at 2.11pm on 9 December 2019.

This remembrance service will be held under COVID-19 Level 2 protocols, reducing the number of guests to ensure the continued safety of all. 

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Tumuaki (Chairman) Joe Harawira said the decision to limit numbers had been difficult given the healing needed for many.  The safety of survivors and injured, families and kaumatua as well as the wider community, however, had to be paramount.

“We knew that safety at this time would limit the number of people who could physically attend.  But we also needed to protect those who remain without compromise,” he said.

“First and foremost, the gathering Whakaari – He Rā Whakamaumaharatanga is for the individuals and families most affected by the tragedy. We have also extended invitations to certain government and consular representatives, together with delegates of groups and organisations who were involved in the emergency response.”

Mr Harawira said Ngāti Awa wanted to ensure that local, national and international communities could still observe December 9 with them.

As a result, New Zealand’s indigenous public broadcaster, Māori Television, will broadcast the commemorations live across its multiple platforms, television and online. 

Māori Television’s Tāhuhu Rangapū, Shane Taurima, said it was a sobering privilege and responsibility.

“We hope our broadcast will give many at home and across the world the opportunity to remember in their own way.  It may be in the privacy of their homes, at work, as a gathering or as an individual.  No matter where whānau or loved ones are, they can be part of this unique observance with Ngāti Awa and with Aotearoa, New Zealand.”

The Whakatāne District Council is also helping to facilitate public commemorations at Mātaatua Reserve from 11.30am with National Primary School Kapa Haka Winners, Te Kura o Te Pāroa and Ngāti Awa Pakeke.

We encourage anyone attending to bring their own refreshments and to note that this commemoration is a family-friendly event. Māori Television’s live broadcast of the remembrance service at Te Mānuka Tutahi Marae in Whakatāne will be from 1.00pm to 2.30pm.  It will be simulcast live to the Mataatua Reserve big screen or can be viewed at:

The broadcast can also be viewed on Freeview Ch5 and Sky Ch19. Ngāti Awa plan to host a larger and more inclusive event at a future date when international borders are open and affected overseas families will be have the ability to attend.

For further information please contact Tui MacDonald on 027 252 7017