Large-scale irrigation in New Zealand began in the late 19th century. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, several large-scale storage and irrigation projects, such as the Rangitata Diversion Race, were built using government funding. The majority of major schemes were constructed after 1960 in the Canterbury and Central Otago regions.
The following map shows government-owned irrigation schemes prior to 1989, and the number of hectares they irrigated. It excludes on-farm irrigation owned by private individuals or entities.
The rationale for government involvement in developing, subsidising and maintaining community irrigation schemes changed from period to period:
Several major schemes have been developed since devolution, including Opuha (1998, 16,000 ha), Waimakariri (1999, 18,000ha), North Otago Stage 1 (2006, 10,000ha), and the Wai-iti Valley Augmentation Dam (800,000m3), which also opened in 2006.
The sharply contrasting ways in which community irrigation schemes in New Zealand were developed and managed before and after 1990 illustrate the operation of decentralised vis-à-vis centralised (planning) industry governance systems. While the evidence is not easily quantifiable, what evidence there is suggests that the shift to a decentralised system that took place about 1990 coincides with improved irrigation efficiency. Today, farmer owned companies – rather than State owned – are responsible and accountable for scheme development and management. In combination with the RMA – which enables a decentralised approach to resource use – this has facilitated innovation in scheme design, more efficient management, and better water use. It has also revealed more precisely the value of water in irrigation. This decentralised system has also highlighted the difficulties for many communities to raise early commitment and funding to determine the viability.
National Infrastructure Plan – March 2010 Part 3 – Facts and Issues, Sectoral Analysis, Rural water infrastructure.
Gudgeon, J., Physical stock accounts for Water, Key Statistics, Statistics New Zealand, August 2004
White, P.A., Sharp, B.M.H., and Reeves, R.R. 2004. ‘New Zealand Water Bodies of National Importance for domestic and industrial use IGNS contract report 2004/12 prepared for Ministry of Economic Development, Wellington.
Nimmo-Bell report (2000) cited in internal MAF background paper, 2004 “Water in New Zealand Agriculture: Resilience and Growth”.
The Audit Office (1987) Report of the Audit Office: Ministry of Works and Development: Irrigation Schemes (Wellington: Government Printer).
A Labour and Green commitment to wind down Government loan funding for irrigation ignores irrigation’s vital role in regional growth and in climate change adaptation, says nonprofit membership body IrrigationNZ. “We note the Labour-New Zealand First coalition agreement has a….. Read more
IrrigationNZ says that a decision by the new government not to introduce a water tax would be a victory for common sense. IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis has congratulated Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the new government. Speaking to media….. Read more
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November 29 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Proudly supported by our Training Partners TRAINING FOR IRRIGATION OPERATORS AND MANAGERS – IMPROVE YOUR IRRIGATION SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE DARFIELD Where: Darfield Rec Centre When: 10am- 4pm Wednesday 29th November 2017 Cost: IrrigationNZ Members $350 +GST and Non-members $550….. Read more
January 18, 2018 - January 19, 2018
Acquire the specialist skills required to design technically efficient and environmentally sustainable irrigation systems. This certificate is suitable for people with prior knowledge and experience in irrigation. You will be required to design two different irrigation systems so will need….. Read more
Continued investment in irrigation vital for regional growth & climate change adaptation says IrrigationNZ t.co/fE28s3k2E7
How irrigation helps local economies - District council in line for surplus of $1.5m t.co/MQZQQWKqDT