Ngāti Awa files application with the Court of Appeal to hear water bottling appeal


Ngāti Awa files application with the Court of Appeal to hear water bottling appeal

Ngāti Awa has today filed an application in the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the High Court judgment dismissing Ngati Awa’s appeal from the Environment Court.  The Environment Court majority’s decision was to grant Creswell New Zealand Limited (Creswell), the right to extract 1.1 million cubic metres of water annually from the Otākiri aquifer, for water bottling.  Ngāti Awa is progressing this application for leave to appeal through Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa.

Creswell is a subsidiary of Chinese soft drinks giant Ngonfu Spring, headquartered in Hangzhou, China. Otakiri is a small rural settlement a short distance from Whakatāne and within the Ngāti Awa rohe.

Ngāti Awa first opposed the Creswell proposal in 2018, concerned that the proposal would have irrevocable and negative effects on te mauri o te wai, that Ngāti Awa would not be able to carry out their roles as kaitiaki and that the proposal was inconsistent with the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This argument was summed up by Ngāti Awa pukenga and former Rūnanga Chair Dr. Hohepa Mason when he described it as: “too much water, to be sold, too far away”.

Leonie Simpson, Manahautū (CEO), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “He taonga te wai – water is an inherited treasure. Once it has been removed from our rohe our wai will never return. As kaitiaki and mana whenua we have a responsibility to act when decisions impact the natural resources within our rohe.

“We are also concerned about the wider allocation of freshwater rights in Aotearoa. Successive governments have failed to address the very real issue of water rights in New Zealand. It is only fair that government work with Māori as partners to address the issues of water quality, allocation and broader issues that impact our environment. In a country impacted by severe drought and water shortages it is nothing short of negligent to give this resource away.”

Joe Harawira, Tumuaki (Chairman), Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa says: “We are focused on developing projects and businesses that are sustainable and create long-term meaningful opportunities for our Ngāti Awa people (including our recent jobs for nature). Creswell plans to take a vital, scarce and precious resource forever.

“The mauri of our wai is harmed through Creswell’s application.  The Government must address water rights in this country. 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?”

“To allow this project to progress will be a terrible mistake and not lead to positive outcomes for our mokopuna (future generations),” added Leonie Simpson

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

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 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. For more information please visit the website: