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Mackenzie Basin Farmers Take Water Fight To Top

9 July 2004 News Release

Mackenzie Basin Farmers Take Water Fight To The Top

As a young farmer in 1967, Bruce Scott stood alongside other farmers on the top of Mt Mary in the Mackenzie Basin and was promised that the parched farmland on the flats would become ‘an irrigated oasis’. Now, 37 years on Bruce is going back to the top of Mt Mary to get that promise kept.

Bruce Scott is behind a petition being launched today to rally support for Mackenzie Basin farmers in their fight to have the promised irrigation and stock water returned to them by the Government.

Mr Scott was a member of the Young Farmers Club in the late 1960’s when the then Minister of Electricity came to the area to convince concerned farmers that the hydro development would provide them with water for irrigation.

“I was one of the farmers who met with the Minister, Tom Shand on the top of Mt Mary when he made that promise of water on behalf of the Government. That promise was subsequently set out in the 1969 Order in Council that allowed for 14.7 cumecs of water to be used by Mackenzie Basin farmers for irrigation and stock water,” said Mr Scott.

“This petition is about ensuring that promise is kept,” he said.

Next Saturday (July 17) Mr Scott and farmers from the area are heading back to the top of Mt Mary to hand over their petition to National Party Leader, Dr Don Brash and National’s Environment Spokesman, Dr Nick Smith who will take it to Parliament.

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“The Government of the day recognised that the hydro development was going to cut us off from water and that irrigation would be vital to the ongoing viability of farming and the environment here.

“The Government’s vision at the time was for the deal to last as long as water was required for hydro electricity. We’re asking Members of Parliament to honour the deal when the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill comes back before Parliament,” said Mr Scott

The petition asks Parliament to “honour the commitments made in good faith to the Mackenzie Basin Community for irrigation and stock water, at the time of the Upper Waitaki Hydro Development, by incorporating the intent of the 1969 Order In Council into the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill.”


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