Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa, CEO Leonie Simpson says Creswell NZ's consent to expand its water bottling operation undermines her peoples "status as guardians and tangata whenua".
The iwi is one of three groups who are appealing the Whakatāne District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional council's decision.
“We don't agree with pumping one billion litres of water out of this spring. We are the protectors of Papatuanuku, Ranginui this is our birth right to protect our resource,” says Simpson.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa along with Sustainable Ōtākiri and the Ngāti Tūwharetoa (BOP) Settlement Trust are appealing the resource consent for Creswell NZ to expand their existing water bottling operation at Otakiri springs.
“We'd like to sit down with other tribes, sub-tribes and local councils in the region to look at strategies on how best to manage water in the region.”
Creswell NZ says it remains open to discussions to address concerns set out by the three appeallants.
In a statement, the managing director of Creswell NZ says, "It's important we have a robust process to ensure the right decisions are made and these appeals are part of that process."
Creswell NZ Limited, which is owned by water bottling giant Nongfu Spring, were granted an application under the Overseas Investment Act to purchase land for the expansion.
“The main thing for us is to oppose the consent to extract more water from the spring” says Simpson.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa represent 17,000 beneficiaries and they're prepared to fight the resource consent to the end.
“They are not acknowledging our tribal connection to the Tarawera river and the Otakiri and Awaiti springs” says Simpson.
Creswell NZ says 60 jobs will be created at the Ōtākiri Spring bottling plant within the next four years.