Irrigation Acceleration Fund

Funding is available to support irrigation development. Learn about the support offered and how to get help with your scheme.

What costs we cover

Grants can cover the staged irrigation scheme development process – from concept all the way through to being construction-ready.

  • MPI can contribute up to 50% of the cost of the investigations.
  • Other Crown money can't be included in your funding contribution.

What is funded?

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) contributes money for:

  • Strategic water management studies: To identify challenges and opportunities relating to freshwater management. These studies occur at an early stage, to assess the feasibility and necessity for freshwater management infrastructure at both a regional and community scale.
  • Community irrigation schemes: Projects that help new, smaller community scheme developments and capital upgrades of existing community scheme infrastructure. These proposals must be consistent with agreed regional strategies.

If your irrigation project is a regional-scale irrigation scheme, you may be eligible to apply for funding from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (CIIL).

The application process

Our application guidelines have more information about the application process and what qualifies for grant funding. They'll also help you to understand if your proposal fits the criteria for funding.

Download the guidelines [PDF, 358 KB]

The criteria

The full set of criteria is in the guidelines. Criteria include:

  • A single point of contact.
  • A clearly identifiable contracting party.
  • A clear legal status.
  • A good fit with regionally agreed approaches to the sustainable use and management of water.
  • Robust and active collaborative community engagement.
  • Commitment to good industry management practice
  • Direct and indirect net economic benefits to New Zealand
  • Environmental, social, recreational and cultural co-benefits.
  • An ability to deliver on the proposed programme of work.
  • Qualifying contributions equal to or greater than Crown grant funding sought.

Do you meet the criteria?

Once you've read the guidelines and feel you demonstrate these criteria, complete the Expression of interest form and email it to

Download Expression of interest form [DOCX, 27 KB]

Next steps

MPI will use the completed Expression of interest form to determine if your project will be a:

  • Strategic Study or a Community Scheme with MPI. We can then help you prepare a more comprehensive proposal.
  • A regional scheme funded by CIIL. If your project does sit with CIIL, MPI will tell you what you have to do. More information on regional irrigation schemes is on CIIL's website  

Irrigation scheme case studies

The Irrigation Acceleration Fund team is pulling together information on the environmental, economic, and community impacts of irrigation schemes. Find out more by reading our case study.

  • Central Plains Water Limited – A community irrigation scheme case study [upload to DV:]

Irrigation is an economic boost

Irrigation provides a reliable supply of water for farmers and growers so they can plan their output with some certainty, instead of fluctuating year by year. Irrigation, storage and better water infrastructure have environmental, supply and economic benefits for the wider community.

In many cases with irrigation schemes, stored water or dams can improve environmental outcomes because there is a more reliable supply of water throughout the year. This is because in times of high rain and water flows, water can be stored for use when the drier months roll around.  This can lead to:

  • healthier rivers
  • a wider range of recreation uses
  • improved habitats for fish and birdlife
  • maintenance of the mauri and cultural value of rivers, lakes and streams.

Irrigated agriculture boosts sustainable economic growth throughout New Zealand. A report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research found that it contributes $2.2 billion to the national economy – and that value continues to grow.

Download NZIER's report into the benefits of irrigation to the economy [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Media releases

[List to come]

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