Update! Pre-Budget announcement

On 9 May, the Prime Minister and Ministers of Agriculture and Environment announced a package of measures recognising the strategic value of water to New Zealand's economy and way of life.

The package comprises:

  • An Irrigation Acceleration Fund of $35M over five years to unlock the economic growth potential of our primary sectors by developing more efficient and effective water infrastructure, such as storage and distribution;
  • A Fresh Start for Fresh Water Clean-Up Fund of $15M over two years to boost the restoration of waterways affected by historical pollution, which increases Government spending to $72.4M over four years for clean-up of waterways;
  • A National Policy Statement (NPS) on freshwater management to set a consistent, nationwide regulatory framework for setting water quantity and quality limits to govern the allocation and use of freshwater

Find out more on the announcements.

Read the Cabinet paper on the Irrigation Acceleration Fund, and an NZIER report on the economic impact of government support for water infrastructure.

Read other Cabinet papers related to the A Fresh Start for Fresh Water Programme.

Irrigation plays an important role in agricultural productivity and is a major contributor to the New Zealand economy. In 2002/03, irrigation was estimated to contribute around $920 million net GDP "at the farm gate", over and above that which would have been produced from the same land without irrigation. Since then, the area of irrigated agriculture and horticulture has increased by about 25 percent, from 480 000 hectares to around 600 000 hectares. A further 1.9 million hectares of land is capable of being irrigated.

The largest areas under irrigation are in Canterbury, Hawkes Bay Marlborough and Otago.

MPI has a number of work programmes that involve irrigation, including support for the investigation of new projects and generating investor and community support and detailed design for proposed schemes.

  • The Economic Value of Irrigation in New Zealand: This paper provides information on the socio-economic contribution irrigation currently makes to the New Zealand economy, and an estimate of the potential to add to economic growth.
  • Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF): The IAF is intended to support the potential for irrigated agriculture to contribute to sustainable economic growth throughout New Zealand. The 2011 Budget allocated $35 million over five years to support the development of irrigation infrastructure proposals to the 'investment-ready' prospectus stage.
  • The Community Irrigation Fund (CIF) is a key MPI programme that supports community water storage and/or irrigation schemes that help reduce the risks from water shortages caused by climate change by funding the generation of community and investor support and detailed design of schemes.
  • Sustainable Farming Fund supports projects that contribute to improving the financial and environmental performance of agriculture, including water storage and irrigation schemes.


Last Updated: 01 May 2012

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33