Govt finds an extra NZ$15 mln to put toward cleaning waterways, earmarks NZ$35 mln for irrigation; eyes NZ$400 mln irrigation plan

Govt finds an extra NZ$15 mln to put toward cleaning waterways, earmarks NZ$35 mln for irrigation; eyes NZ$400 mln irrigation plan

By Alex Tarrant

The government has announced plans for NZ$93.7 million for a specified fund to clean up rivers and lakes over five years, including NZ$15 million extra than already earmarked for the process, while considering the creation a NZ$400 million fund for irrigation schemes to help farmers which could be introduced in 2013/14.

The Ministry for the Environment will bring together NZ$78.7 million in existing funding over five years for cleaning waterways, and add NZ$15 million in the next two years to create a fresh-water cleanup fund worth NZ$93.7 million over the next five years, Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said. A government release says government is looking to spend NZ$264.8 million "including out years" on its total plan to clean up waterways.

The cleanup fund initiative brought together a number of one-off clean-ups in Waikato, Rotorua and Taupo into the Fresh Start for Fresh Water Programme, Smith said.

Meanwhile, NZ$35 million will be allocated over five years to support development of irrigation infrastructure proposals, Minister of Agriculture David Carter said. Government would consider creating a NZ$400 million fund for equity investment for the construction of regional-scale irrigation schemes to encourage third-party investment in the area.

Funding of the NZ$400 million investment vehicle had not been finalised, but it was expected to be available from 2013/2014, Carter said. Prime Minister John Key said he expected the 2013/14 budget to include the infrastructure capital investment plan.

"The NZ$35 million is to put those schemes in the position where they can come with the feasibility study done and be ready to invest in. There’s no question when they’re at that point, in my view, the NZ$400 million will ultimately be invested in those schemes, because the economic payback for New Zealand’s enormous," Key said.

It was Key’s view the NZ$400 million would be there.

“We would anticipate it starting in Budget 2013/14. It’s over a period of time, we’ll build it into our capital budgets at that point," he said.

Government would look to invest in minority stakes in infrastructure projects with the fund, Carter said.

The expanded irrigation fund would support the development of new water harvesting, storage and distribution infrastructure.

'Need for better irrigation'

Budget 2011 would allocate NZ$35 million over five years for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund, to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the ‘investment-ready’ prospectus stage, Carter said. The NZ$35 million would be reallocated from within the Ministry of Agriculture budget, Carter said.

"The expanded fund is the first stage of the process; for the second stage, the Government will consider in a future Budget investing up to NZ$400 million of equity in the construction of regional-scale schemes to encourage third-party capital investment," Carter said.

"The Crown will be a minority partner, investing on commercial terms, to give confidence to capital markets to invest in large scale irrigation schemes," he said.

“Well-designed storage and irrigation infrastructure has the potential to deliver significant, sustainable economic growth. Developing irrigation has huge potential to unlock economic growth and prosperity for our primary sectors and, by extension, for all New Zealanders.”

NZIER research suggests the fund could support 340,000ha of new irrigation, which could boost exports by NZ$1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to NZ$4 billion a year by 2026, Carter said.

“These initiatives represent a major step in unlocking significant economic potential for New Zealand, having our tradeable sectors growing strongly and delivering on the Government’s economic growth goals,” he said.

See Federated Farmers CEO Conor English's opinion piece on the issue here.

(Updates with Key comments, tidies up head, first paras, clarity on amounts to be spent)

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Well, well,  my woolly ones !

Let us not call such largesse a bribe, merely an insurance policy to make sure the cockies and teat pullers vote the right way later this year...

True colours are shining through....

Dear friend, Without the cockies and teat pullers doing as well as they are at the moment, this country would be in worse financial shape than we are at the moment and as we all know we are almost up the creek without a paddle now. Cheers

the cockies are only economical because they get cheap water and are not charged anything to fill our rivers with shit.

its a subsidy. a bribe. pork.

So you're happy to fork out more for your milk butter and cheese VL.....because that's what comes from boosting the onfarm costs....and before you spit your dummy, you might like to consider the fact that all over the country, urban sewage if still discharged into times of floods it's raw too....some of it likely your's!

yeah wol i want milk and cheese to cost what it costs. not without pain, cos cheese is truly one of the pninacles of civilization, but taking my kids swimming in a clean river is also important, so lets have a truly even playing field.


also wol, as you probably know, its reasonably straightforward for farmers to get their pollution down, and as with all humans, baby, farmer, student, MP, what they need is the right incentives. 

re urban sewage. infrastructure should be one of the core endeavors of a council, rather than street art and knitting collectives.   pollution has a cost wol, you know that. let's treat them honestly.

Whats boosting on farm costs is the debt taken on to buy over-valued property in order to specualte on it and not get an income...its simple if the famrers are polluting they should be paying for it...

Sewerage is treated "normally" if not then yes the council should be installing plants to deal with it and the rate payers pay, simple.


This is the Nick Smith Grease Gun approach....not at all like the Labour pork offerings!

"has the potential to deliver significant, sustainable economic growth".

There's no such animal. Carter is either being exceedingly disingenuous, or he's just plain ignorant.

The saving grace is " but it was expected to be available from 2013/2014",

So it won't happen then. Note Bernards petrol post.

I've cleaned up the intro/header.


This government took exceptional delight when it got into power of attacking spending plans laid out by Labour that weren't fully funded - pretty much at every question time for the first year they were in power they took stabs at Labour having said they would do something, but not providing funding plans.

Now look where we've come around to again:

'We want to invest NZ$400 mln in irrigation schemes, we're going to do it sometime in the future - possibly 2013/2014, oh and by the way, we haven't fully funded it, we just think it's a choice idea.'

Either, don't attack others for having unfunded plans, or don't have unfunded plans. Bit rich to have both.


most excellent news

agree wolly do you think it is coincidence that the waterways that are polluted have a urban area nearby ? where rivers like waitaki rangitata rakaia arnt


Great just put it on the tab who cares, hey maybe they could lower taxes even more so we can increase our borrowings further, see if we can get up past 300Mil a week.

Or are we there already?

These guys are really good with money aren't they? (not)

Already borrowing NZ$400 mln a week. We'll borrow NZ$20 billion or 10% of GDP this year, more than half of it from foreigners.



Odd, thought NZ was a market economy and capitalist based?

No need to subsidise business in a real market economy. The reality is the black market is the free market! Thats why its illegal, otheriwse god forbid, Goods and services would tend to head to where there needed with out tax payer subsidy not where Central Politburo  decree says.

Another half baked idea with unintended consequences, more than likely enviromental degradation...

It is....except Govn's are there to set direction, policy is one way and regulate is another, seed projects another....the climate is going to change in NZ, so its simple, in order to provide food we need to be able to allow for bigger dry spells....


No NZ or any other OECD is not not market based its a subsidised corporate model.

Well if sticking more industrial dairy farming in a known drought area is smart thinking for the future Id hate to see what dumb is.

Provide more food ah no IMF and World Bank policy is about cash crops you feed yourself second. You must grow cash crops to pay back the money these institutions loan you + interest, and or front up what resources your country has so the same few people can exercise hydraulic despotism and call it the free

NZ$35 million to subsidise irrigation projects! Why?

Could it be because Fededated Farmers chief lobbyist is the brother of the Minister of Finance?

Disclaimer: I'm not saying that is the reason, just that a potential conflict of interest exists and perception is everything.

It's not a subsidy's taxpayer rural landponzi support...put it up there with the Landcorp purchase of farmland...all in a good cause Simon....and you never know your luck it might even create one or two real jobs....

Good to see you agree about a level playing field Steven.  Now we just have to get the Regional Councils to be as agressive about prosecuting councils for breaches of their consents as they are farmers.  I have no time for farmers who breach their consents but we do need to be seeing a level playing field when it comes to prosecutions.

VL do you pay for your water?  I am charged for every cube of water that I am allowed to take from our own bore, whether or not I use it all, so I pay for our farm water, as does every other farmer in the Southland district with a consent to take.  Compare that to two of my Waikato mates on  council water who don't pay a cent for their water and in both cases they have had water leaking from the council pipes for almost a year.  One lives in town and one lives rurally but is on council water.  Council has been to investigate both instances twice but several months later neither has been fixed.  One of them is bubbling like a soda stream out of the ground.

CO - I always look for the disingenuity, when blameshift/comparisons are mentioned.

We are talking different scales here, so much so that I suggest your comment goes in that disingenuous basket.

You're not closely related to Don Nicholson, perchance?

So urban users of water shouldn't have to pay for it pdk?  I don't object to paying for my water - we are a non irrigated farm - so the water goes only for stock and dairy shed.  It's quality is too poor to be used for human drinking water.

Seriously, I don't think anyone 'paying for it' is the answer.

The reason will be evident from (as Walter says) 'my many posts'.

I don't think we value Natural Capital correctly, and indeed, I don't think our fiscal system is capable of doing so. It only values deckchairs, without factoring in their height above the waterline.

If you commercialise it, then some are going to drop out of the bidding. Maybe not in NZ yet, but in most places. That means we reduce global population alright, but by poverty-induced thirst.  We should be mature enough, to reduce population by controlled descent, and ensure nobody goes without.

The fiscal system doesn't allow for ultimate scarcities of essentials. Which manifests itself in other ways - all pipework, most tankage, moat fittings, all associated machinery, are oil-based. Competition for same, will see most wish-list infrastructure (Auckland roads, dams) left unconstructed. Increasingly, O&M will be compromised, and it'll be a full-time struggle to just maintain.

Then it'll be triage.

Paying is not the issue. Socially responsible preparation for coming parameters (wishful thinking is an invalid reason for continuance, but a viable alternative energy-source would be a valid one) is the only 'good governance' course.

Our ideologues are a long way from that.


NZ already has one of the highest rates of cryptospordium in the world because of shoddy farming practices. If NZ's clean, green image abroad it is most valuable asset, one would think this is a step in the wrong direction unless environmental stewardship becomes as big a priority.

Amanda please define  shoddy farming practices.

A quote from your article:

Contact with farm animals was the most commonly reported risk factor (59.4%) followed by attending school or childcare (43.4%) and drinking or using untreated drinking water (38.7%). Overseas travel during the incubation period was relatively uncommon (5.7%).

Seems like attending school or childcare is not much safer than contact with farm animals. ;-)

Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

CO its always harder arguing these issues with you because in my experience of cockies you're way more reasonable than most.

i know half a dozen farmers in taranaki and sth canty who have sly pipes taking water out of their stream and only one of them has planted a riparian zone. so i don't feel like i'm too unbalanced or too uninformed about dairy practices. 

re your point about councils - that's pretty fair. many councils have lax and uneven enforcement and need to be reformed

i actually agree that there is scope to develop water storage for areas where dairying is not naturally feasible (ie canterbury) but if its going to be subsidised by the govt i sure as hell want a cgt on that land, and i want the farmers involved to actually pay for their water take and pollution output.

i doubt it'll happen though, because as we've seen in the last year this govt is very comfortable with buying south island votes with taxpayer money, and although fed farmers may talk of guardianship they really do have a disturbingly short-term view of the environment (look at the way they rolled over for big-agri re croppers keeping their own seeds as one example)