A Crown Water Investment Company will help transform New Zealand agriculture and the economy.
“As an environmental award winning arable farmer who uses intensive irrigation, this is a fresh start for water,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers RMA and environment spokesperson.
“If you go to a Ponsonby café and order a long black, they don’t put a cup outside in the hope a passing rain shower will fill it. Our towns and cities store water because it makes residential and commercial city life possible.
“A Crown Water Investment Company will apply a similar principle to agriculture. It will also help to reduce an annual economic and environmental rainfall lottery. While this is about economic infrastructure that will grow productivity, it is no hand out.
“The Crown Company will invest commercially in schemes before selling that stake on. The company will effectively be an underwriter before realising value from its stake. Farmers will have to buy into these schemes so water won’t be given away. This needs to be understood.
“If a scheme doesn’t stack up commercially and environmentally, it won’t get a cent either.
“We need a strong economy and agriculture is our competitive advantage in a world of seven billion people that will be ten billion by 2050.
“We also know we need to make the environmental case. A key part of this will be consistent scientific monitoring of our waterways. The only ones who’ll fear that prospect are those politicians who throw mud based on their prejudices and assumptions.
“Take the environmental award winning Opuha Dam. It transformed a river that ran dry into a river with permanent flow benefitting agriculture, jobs, tourism and the environment.
“Opuha shows that win-wins are possible because it generates $8 for the economy for every dollar invested in it. This 8:1 payback is potentially conservative too.
“Federated Farmers has pushed water storage for some time and we welcome this $400 million investment. Water is to New Zealand what minerals are to Australia,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.