Far North Holdings Ltd would like to congratulate Tai Tokerau Water Trust on reaching a significant milestone with the official opening of the Matawii Dam on May 23.
The opening signifies three years of work to create the reservoir in Ngawha for the benefit of local businesses, residents and as a back-up for Kaikohe’s water supply.
Mana whenua Ngati Rangi welcomed members of the Labour Party Māori caucus, as well as other distinguished guests, key stakeholders, kaumātua and local community members.
Tai Tokerau Water Trust project relationship manager Chris Frost said the primary focus of the project was to enable a transition to higher-value, more sustainable land use such as horticulture.
Frost said the Dam would also provide water to the neighbouring Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park for both production use as well as emergency firefighting, and supplement Kaikohe’s Water Supply in times of need.
“Kaikohe has suffered from major water restrictions in the past with the Matawii Dam now ensuring a more reliable water supply,” Frost said.
“The dam has been filling since March 8 this year and at the time of the opening was storing 350,000 cubic meters of water (around half of the total volume) and 3.5m off full level.
“There is a long list of reasons for choosing a dam site and the Matawii Dam was strategic in that it was located upstream from both the Ngawha Park and Kaikohe township, as well as close proximity to areas of good horticulture land.”
The project was funded by a $68 million Government investment, predominantly a loan, supporting the construction of this reservoir, along with two other much bigger water storage and distribution projects being developed by Tai Tokerau Water Trust in Kaipara and the Mid North.
Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan attended the opening and said the water storage projects would pump new life into the districts.
She said despite a particularly wet summer, more frequent droughts and variable rainfall was something the region needed to plan for to ensure communities were well positioned for the future.
“As a result of the flood-and-drought cycle in Te Tai Tokerau, there needs to be a reliable water source to unlock the potential of the region’s land, which has rich soils and an incredible climate for horticulture,” Allan said.
“The Matawii water reservoir harvests water during peak flows to store for use during dry periods.
“Water plays an integral role in ensuring our regional economies are equitable, sustainable and productive.
“With many of our regions’ water allocation issues disproportionately affecting Māori landowners, this means the limiting of economic growth is felt disproportionately by Māori.”
Far North Holdings CE Andy Nock said the Matawii Dam would enable support for local horticultural production leading to more value-added processing at the Ngawha Innovation & Enterprise Park.
“Without water we cannot support intensive or undercover horticulture and the significant full-time jobs such an investment generates,” Nock said.
“It is therefore essential to support the development of our primary sector economy here at the Park and the flow on manufacturing and processing opportunities that may come from this.”
When full, the reservoir retains nearly 750,000 cubic metres of water – or 300 Olympic sized swimming pools. Matawii Dam is the first dam to be built in the West of the region, following two dams built in Kerikeri in the 1980s.