Hapū angry over sale of Porotī spring water to China

By Dean Nathan

While the ownership of water is yet to be determined, local government is allowing it to be sold commercially overseas.

That is why local hapū are up in arms over an Auckland-based company selling water from Poroti Springs to China.

Poroti hapū are angry that Auckland-based Company Zodiac Holdings Limited has been given the go ahead to sell their water supply.

Milan Ruka says, “Throughout this whole process we're just treated like flies on the wall, as if we don't exist and yet this water omits from our whenua.”

Under the Official Information Act, research of local government file is being conducted in support of a full report by the Waitangi Tribunal on the Poroti water claim due out at the end of this year.

Ruka says, “It's stuff that we're not privy to at all and yet it’s our water and we're dealing with 21,000 cubic metres that's been taken every day and our reserve is right in the middle of all of the consenters, and yet we're not notified and we're not part of the correspondence.”

The Northland Regional Council would not appear on camera today but did not agree to claims by the hapū of Poroti that their water has been over-allocated.

“Now Zodiac have up to two and a half cubic metres a day and they want to sell it to China so we don't get ten cents and there’s no revenue whatsoever for our hapū.  Not that we want to sell the water but we just want to participate and share.  We actually have to pay for our own water,” says Ruka.

Waipao Stream was gazetted in 1885 as the water supply for the respective hapū of Poroti, namely Te Uri Roroi, Te Parawhau and Te Māhurehure.

But to date, the hapū say they have always been kept on the outer as far as the management and control of the resource.

Ruka says, “Since 1885 our water has been gazetted as a Māori water supply for our hapū of Poroti and all the water omits from there and yet everybody else is taking the water.”

While customary rights to water are still yet to be determined, commercial interests are being given rights to sell the resource overseas.