Irrigation - Kerikeri’s Underappreciated Resource

One of the major appeals for people moving to and living in Kerikeri, is the prospect of living ‘the good life’. Getting their hands dirty and growing their own patch is one of these aspects. Kerikeri’s history of being one of the first horticultural areas in New Zealand was created by our free-draining volcanic soil, temperate or semi-subtropical climate and high rainfall. It all sounds perfect but over the years, it became apparent that we couldn’t always be reliant on the weather. Northland can experience drought conditions, which we’ve felt the sting of as recently as December and January.

Diving right into the history of our irrigation, the Government in the early 1980s built what is now known as the Kerikeri Irrigation Scheme, to support Kerikeri’s growing horticultural industry. When it was fully operational, the Scheme was sold to the growers who owned the land inside the area of benefit at that time. It has been an incredible resource for all growers in the area and has certainly seen the region become one of the NZ’s largest citrus and kiwifruit growing areas.

One of the challenges facing the Scheme today is the changing landscape within Kerikeri itself. The ideal that the Scheme was designed to service the commercial growers within the area of benefit has not changed. However, over the years, the excess water has been provided to smaller, non-commercial lifestyle and residential properties with a ‘non-commercial connection’. This is based on the understanding that in a significant drought, their supply could be cut off or restricted to ensure that commercial users weren’t short on receiving their requirements. As Kerikeri has grown, particularly in the last two years, thanks to our building boom, immense pressure has been placed on the Scheme. Part of the issue, is that of those seeking a new non-commercial connection who believe it is their right to have a supply.  This is clearly not the case.


SWIFT Conveyancing and Law North Limited wrote a great article recently on the subject:
“Kerikeri Irrigation – Commercial and non-Commercial Water Supply Agreement
Kerikeri Irrigation exercises their right to cease Commercial supply to any block with less than 2 hectares being used commercially or where there is no commercial activity regardless of property size. As soon as the Commercial User drops below the 2 irrigable hectares they cease being a Commercial User and must apply for a non-Commercial supply and they will be asked to transfer their shares back to Kerikeri Irrigation. This means a vendor cannot agree to transfer their shares to a purchaser.

Kerikeri Irrigation tell us that they usually do not know of the changes to the commercial status of a property until the property sells so they are now checking when contacted regarding the sale and are enforcing the rules at that stage.

In most cases, we are dealing with non-Commercial supply. With non-Commercial supply, Kerikeri Irrigation is now issuing a new Supply Agreement rather than transferring the old one. Whilst it is not an automatic transfer from the existing owner, a request to continue supply to an existing connected property is unlikely to be rejected. However, this means a vendor cannot agree to transfer the supply.

There should not be any obligation on a vendor in a Sale agreement to transfer a water supply agreement or, in relation to a Commercial supply, to transfer shares.

If a Purchaser requires a Commercial supply or non-Commercial supply then there needs to be an appropriate condition included in the agreement for the purchaser to secure a satisfactory supply agreement and, if commercial, an agreement for a share issue before the agreement becomes unconditional. This should be a purchaser condition whereby the purchaser (or their legal representative) approaches Kerikeri Irrigation directly.

We are happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.”

–      SWIFT Conveyancing and Law North Limited


We hope this goes some way to explaining the history and what is involved for those seeking a connection to the Scheme. We are very privileged to live in an area where there is potential to have a non-potable water supply at one’s gate.

To sign off, it’s fitting to mention that the beautiful, warm autumn days are becoming less frequent and the coolness is creeping in. So, don’t hesitate to pop in for a hot coffee and a chat any time you’re in town. We enjoy that…and that’s for Real!
Pete, Steve and the REAL Team.

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Irrigation - Kerikeri’s Underappreciated Resource