Chinese water bottling deal 'muskets and blankets'

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is sympathising with local iwi who have opposed the granting of a water bottling consent in the Bay of Plenty.

The government has approved a Chinese bottling giant to purchase spring water near Whakatāne and export more than one billion litres of drinking water each year.

The plan promises to create 60 full-time jobs within 4 years and was approved by Greens MP and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

Davidson says “I sympathise with local Maori of Whakatāne. I can understand their disappointment and that’s entrenched in the law.  But I will continue my work to change the law in parliament.” 

But Sage defends her decision.

“The application satisfies the criteria in the Act and we put in special conditions around enforcement if the company doesn't provide those 60 jobs on site on the land in Whakatāne then they will be liable and potentially have to sell their investment.” 

Creswell NZ, Ltd a subsidiary of Chinese bottling giant Ngonfu Spring have applied to purchase 6.2 ha of land to expand the existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant.

Mike van der Boom who lives near the existing plant has concerns surrounding the application.

“It feels like to me we are selling the fishing boat for a couple feeds of fish.  We are selling off a resource water that could be so valuable in the future and the profits are going overseas.  Sure, we are getting the jobs but that's muskets and blankets.” 

Currently there are 10 full-time and 7 part-time workers at the plant that set to increase once all resource consents are granted.