Another milestone as Te Rarawa steps toward horticultural vision 

Te Rarawa has put another stake in the ground for sustainable economic development, today launching a major water storage project at Sweetwater Farming property in Ahipara. 

Timely with Matariki, traditionally a time to celebrate and prepare the ground for the coming year, the iwi held an official ‘ground breaking’ ceremony, blessing and naming of the lake "Te Tupehau" - the wind swept sandhills along Te Oneroa a Tōhē.

Te Rarawa Chairman, Haami Piripi said the project and the day’s events were of special cultural significance.
“As Māori, we regard water as taonga. It must be treated with utmost respect, especially in these times where we’re facing severe drought and water shortages,”

The Far North continues experiencing drought conditions with much of the district still on water restrictions.

“We need to recognise the fundamental importance of water storage for future sustainability. For us it means we can convert iwi lands from dairy, grow our investment into horticulture and move towards a more sustainable, carbon neutral economic platform,” he said.

Last year the iwi made a significant investment into the horticultural industry purchasing Bells Produce, its largest post settlement acquisition. The vision is to grow jobs, grow capacity and develop a highly skilled horticultural workforce fitting for the region.

“We’re now in a position to take our lands to another level of growth and development – developments that fit well with our post covid reflections about the importance of sustainable local and domestic food production,” Haami said.

The 350,000 m3 storage facility works with the natural land formation stretching over eight hectares and up to 30 metres in depth. Water will be drawn from the Awanui River when the flow allows, for use in drier months.

“The Food production sector is strategically important for the country and for us as local iwi,” said June McCabe, Chair of Te Rarawa Asset Holding Company, Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea.

“We’re gearing up to convert up to four hundred hectares into high yield, high value sustainable horticulture in a way that supports our economy and reduces our environmental footprint,”

The iwi is securing partnerships to develop new crops as Te Rarawa continue making strategic investment into the region's horticultural industry. 

“This is about our commitment to create jobs and provide opportunities in our rohe as well as developing a sustainable economic platform across our entity, one that works across our ‘four pou’ approach of cultural, environmental, social and economic wellbeing,” June said.

“We recognise and value the support of our iwi as witnessed at the naming ceremony, and we appreciate the loan given by the PGF, providing the funding we needed for this water storage and  irrigation infrastructure.

We thank Williams Water Advisory for their role and partnership over the past few years. This project is a significant milestone for that partnership,” she said. 

The storage facility is set to be up and running by the end of 2020.