Two proposed demonstration sites for the Kaipara Water project have been given the green light from Council, which will serve as real-life working examples of the best ways to irrigate high value horticultural crops.
Kaipara Water is part of Kaipara KickStart, led by Council and funded by the Provincial Development Unit. Building on the work of Kaipara Kai, the demonstration sites will support land transformation in the district, educating landowners about different types of smart water use by showcasing innovative irrigation technologies. This direct access to practical examples, expert advice, and local knowledge, will provide information and education for all of the Kaipara community in water, crop, and irrigation solutions.
The community demonstration sites are entirely paid for by funding from the Provincial Development Unit, which allocated $740,000 to the project. As well as the set-up costs, the funding covers the management and maintenance of the sites for their lifetime.
There were multiple applications from landowners wanting to be involved in the project and the project applied strict criteria for evaluating potential sites. Among other things, sites had to have existing access to a consistent water supply, and landowners had to be willing and able to host visitors on their land. There are no ratepayer contributions and landowners will not be paid for their participation.
Demonstration site 1 is on iwi land at Maunganui Bluff north of Dargaville. Council is working with Te Roroa to showcase irrigation that can be easily scaled up or down, depending on what crops are being watered. The site includes an in-ground irrigation system managed remotely via a web application to deliver water and fertiliser to vegetable crops in precise amounts. First crops on this site include watermelon, squash and sweetcorn. Water supply is from a farm creek, captured in a tank and gravity fed to the demonstration site.
Demonstration site 2 is in Te Kopuru. A centre pivot irrigator is being installed which has a 242-metre span and will irrigate roughly 10 hectares. First crops include sorghum, maize, and sweetcorn. Water will be gradually taken from a nearby creek under an existing resource consent and stored in a pond that will be built as part of the project.
The Te Kopuru site (site 2) is also located within the future water storage scheme area managed by Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust. The teams from both projects are working closely on the interlinked projects, sharing guidance on water infrastructure solutions and what they learn from their involvement.
As well as regular community events and guided site visits, a time-lapse web camera will be set up to capture crop growth and site development.
Project Manager for Kaipara Water and Kaipara Kai, Diane Miller, is looking forward to seeing the projects in action so that everyone across Kaipara can learn from real-life working examples.
“The information and data gained from these two demonstration sites will enrich research already available from Kaipara Kai and being used through the Kai Hub work,” says Diane Miller.
General Manager of Te Roroa Development Group, Snow Tane, is excited about the potential of the sites to provide much-needed skills to iwi as well as the wider community.
“Te Roroa are incredibly excited to be part of Kaipara Water. The sites will directly benefit our iwi, through education, new skills, and creating jobs,” says Snow Tane.
Mayor Dr Jason Smith believes the demonstration sites will be immeasurably valuable to better understand how to use precious water resources in Kaipara.
“Smart and innovative use of our water resources is critical for our community wellbeing and for our economy. These demo sites are huge opportunities to learn about new irrigation technologies and how they can be used across Kaipara, from Mangawhai to Maunganui Bluff,” says mayor Smith.
The project team is working closely with Kauri Coast Contracting, Think Water Northland, Bay Irrigation, as well as the Kaipara Kai Hub. The Kaipara Kai Hub are contracted by Kaipara District Council to manage the demonstration sites once they are established.
The Kaipara Kickstart programme consists of four interlocking projects: Kaipara Roading, Kaipara Wharves, Kaipara Kai, and Kaipara Water.
“Smart and innovative use of our water resources is critical for our community… across Kaipara, from Mangawhai to Maunganui Bluff,”
- Kaipara mayor Jason Smith