Water Wairarapa


An affordable, reliable and economically efficient water supply would provide Wairarapa with a new and more diverse range of options for land use.

These include arable farming, high-value crops, dairy, sheep dairy, seeds, horticulture (e.g. apples), livestock finishing and viticulture.

An independent study has suggested that irrigating 30,000 more hectares in Wairarapa would result in:

  • growth in the regional economy by $157 million each year
  • 1,210 new jobs
  • $89 million added as a result of on-farm investment
  • 1,170 jobs for one year as a result of on-farm investment
  • expansion of support and service sectors e.g. harvesting, transport, machinery, retail.

For every $1 an irrigator makes, at least another $3 is created in the local community.

Employment and industry growth retains younger people in the region and builds stronger rural communities. Population-based services, schools, clubs and community facilities benefit from greater employment, income and confidence in the area’s future prosperity.

A catchment-wide approach to managing water provides opportunities for the entire community. These include augmenting summer river and stream flows, enhancing quality in waterways, supplementing urban water supplies and creating new recreational uses.


More intensive agricultural and horticulture production made possible by irrigation presents challenges for managing nutrients that affect water quality.

The ability to intensify farming operations depends on operating within regional policies and rules for water quality.

The consenting, design and community engagement phases of scheme development will need to ensure the scheme is both environmentally and economically sustainable. Users of the scheme will be supported to ensure good management practices accompany any move to irrigation and that wider community use is in line with national and regional standards.