John Ward-Holmes.

photo: Chris Conroy


23 February 2017

Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust call on Environment Minister to support conservation order to protect national water taonga

Download PDF of Media Release here.

Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust in Nelson have applied for a ‘water conservation order’ under the Resource Management Act 1991 to protect the mauri and wairua of the aquifer that supplies Te Waikoropupū.

Iwi have applied to the Environment Minister in partnership with community members. The Minister's private secretary has been in contact. It’s a legal first and if successful will create a precedent.

The aim of seeking the order is to protect both the water supply and the aquifer of the largest freshwater springs in the country – a wahi tapu (sacred place) and “national taonga (treasure) of importance to all New Zealanders” according to official documents advocating political support.

Ngāti Tama in its capacity as kaitiaki (guardian) takes its responsibility to safeguard very seriously and says it’s a leadership decision that it’s been upholding for over thirty years.

The commercial development of Te Waikoropupū Springs in Golden Bay and the management of water that feeds it has been a publicly debated issue in the area since 1984 when Ngāti Tama first stood up in a public meeting to protect it.

It is one of several resource management issues Ngāti Tama are facing in the rohe (area) while the Tasman District Council reviews the Tasman Resource Management Plan (TRMP) for release later this year.

Through its participation in community consultation around water resource management planning, Ngāti Tama has identified areas for improvement that better serve its kaupapa (purpose).

“We want cultural, ecological and spiritual values to be given significant weight in all plan and consent decision making.  This aligns with the weight that should be given to these matters in Part II of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), particularly section 6 (e) as a matter of ‘national importance’.  The granting of a Water Conservation Order recognising the outstanding significance of Te Waikoropupū Springs in accordance with tikanga Māori provides appropriate recognition of the importance of these values” says Mr John Ward-Holmes, Kaumatua of Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust.

Ngāti Tama also says that there are plenty of successful working examples in other parts of New Zealand where this has been implemented for the benefit of the community. Its intention is to achieve a balanced outcome so iwi evolve the current process so kaitiakitanga (guardianship) responsibilities are honoured.

“Te Waikoropupū Springs is a very sacred place with the clearest water in the country if not this part of the world. Experts have advised us about the ecological risk if we don’t step in now so we would appreciate the Minister’s help.”
Aside from pursuing the water conservation order, Ngāti Tama are seeking a judicial review of  consent decisions approved by Tasman District Council without public consultation on a non-notified basis. That matter will be heard on 13 March in the Nelson High Court.


Ngāti Tama ki Te Waipounamu Trust was formed in 2013 to represent the Uri o Ngāti Tama who whakapapa to Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka-ā-Maui (Top of the South Island).

Media Enquiries:
Sarah Sparks
Managing Director
Mobile: +64 21 318813

Ngāti Tama Ki Te Pounamu media area:
Historical media coverage on settlement:
The Resource Management Act 1991
Section 6 (e)
“the relationship of Maori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, waahi tapu, and other taonga:”



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