An historic memorandum of understanding has been signed by Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust and the Lake Omapere Ahu Whenua Trust which could see the health of the lake restored before becoming part of a larger water storage scheme for the Mid North region.
The lake, which is owned by the Lake Omapere Trust on behalf of all Ngāpuhi, is the largest freshwater lake in Tai Tokerau and its remediation has been identified as crucial to future water storage and use in the North.
“Lake Omapere can play a pivotal role in providing more reliable water sources that will give all landowners, including Māori, greater options to utilise their land,” Te Tai Tokerau water Trust Trustee Dover Samuels said.
“We hope this will become the start of a long and mutually beneficial relationship,” Mr Samuels said.
The agreement will see funding allocated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to allow the Lake Omapere Trust to carry out a feasibility study into how the health of the lake could be restored. It is expected this work could be completed within six months.
Lake Omapere Trust chair Tamaiti Wihongi said the agreement was a positive step towards restoring the mauri of the lake which could then potentially play a part in realising greater economic independence for Māori.
“This potential can only be achieved if Māori have the resources to participate in the economic development of the region, particularly through lifting the productive potential of Māori land. One way to achieve this is through use of Māori whenua in water supply schemes,” Tamaiti Wihingi said.
Work by Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust to develop a series of reservoirs in the Mid North region began last week with an access road to allow construction of the first reservoir near Kaikohe getting underway. The Trust also hopes to construct as many as three reservoirs in Kaipara.
Combined, the schemes would allow for up to 7000ha of new horticultural development within Northland, as well as be available to bolster existing municipal supply.
Tamaiti Wihongi said the decision to allow water from the lake to be used as a back-up supply for Kaikohe in last summer’s drought showed the Lake Omapere Trust’s willingness to support the local community.
“The lake has more storage capacity than all of the planned reservoirs combined so its importance cannot be underestimated. We are looking forward to completing the work ahead and exploring what part it could potentially play in the planned water schemes,” he said.
About Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust
The Trust is charged with delivering on the transformational promise of the water storage and use scheme in Northland. Its objective is to create the infrastructure needed to promote sustainable land-use change which will in turn lift the prosperity of local communities, particularly for owners of Māori freehold land. Development of the scheme is expected to lift employment by 12% in the Mid-North and 5% in the Kaipara per annum.
For more information contact Greg Hay - 021545054