Potential 544 jobs at Murupara plants

GREEN FIELDS: Two bottling plants could be built on this 35 hectares, owned by Ngati Manawa, near Murupara. Photo supplied.

TWO $300 million water bottling plants destined for Murupara will require 272 people to operate each of them, according to a social and economic report.

The Murupara No 1 entity has signed a memorandum with Ngati Manawa so that it can apply for a resource consent to enable an affiliated company, NZ Aquifer, to be able to develop two plants on 35 hectares owned by the tribe.

The report, which acted as crucial evidence behind when the entity negotiated the memorandum with the tribe, estimates the development has the potential of pumping $103 million into the Bay of Plenty region.

It states that in the first year, building the plants would require $84 million in machinery and equipment from overseas and create 281 temporary jobs.

“As construction is over one-year this is a one-off impact. Some of these full-time equivalents will be salaried employees, however, a significant proportion will be contracted for specific activities over shorter periods than a year. Thus, the full-time equivalents figure is not jobs as such, but 281 full time equivalent year’s worth of labour.”

However, it stated most of the expenditure on operating the plant will be from the Eastern Bay, except for a five-year development management contract based in Auckland.

“Direct employment associated with plan operation is estimated by New Zealand Aquifer Ltd to be 272. Added to this is the indirect employment of 394 full-time equivalents from suppliers to the plant plus another 92 full-time equivalents created when employees spend household income, making a total employment impact of 758 full-time equivalents.

“This employment impact does not include the 30 positions in Auckland for five years of the development management contract.”
Murupara No 1 announced it would apply for a resource consent application to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council this week. It will seek to install a bore to access groundwater that is 100 metres underground.

The report states if built, the plants could each take 70 litres of water per second, relating to 69.1 million litres per day, or around 25.2 billion litres per year.
“At a take of 140 litres per second this is significantly below the 35 percent limit recharge rate for the quifer. The available water is 800 litres per second. This means the planned rate of take is equivalent of 8.8 percent of the available water for the one-plant option and 15.5 percent for the two-plant option.”

The proposed operations would run for 11 months of the year with a one month down time to allow for staff to take holidays and routine maintenance of the plants

“This means the likely actual take for the number one operation will be 6 million litres per day and approximately 2 billion litres per annum, while the New Zealand Aquifer number two option will be double this at 12 million litres per day and four billion litres per annum or 15.9 percent of available water.”

For the consent to be given, the regional council must be satisfied that any affected party gives approval and that it has been clearly established that it will not adversely affect the water resource.

Tribal support for water plants

THE water bottling proposal is still subject to approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

However, Murupara No 1 chief executive Roydon Hartnett said Ngati Manawa would have full involvement with NZ Aquifer in the hiring of people.

Ngati Manawa held a community meeting last Wednesday to discuss the proposal. Chairman Kani Edwards said the benefits to Ngati Manawa included an equity ownership in the new business, $4 million of annual iwi and community grants and $4 million over three years for a work start training programme to assist iwi beneficiaries and those living in the community to be trained to work in the bottling plants.

He said the protection and sustainability of the environment was of utmost importance to iwi but they also needed economic development.

“With these conditions satisfied, we were happy to look at how we could use our water to better our iwi and the community.

“Ngati Manawa have had water bottling companies approach them in the past, but they felt this deal gave back the most social and financial benefits to iwi.

“Like many similar towns and villages around New Zealand, our community has faced decades of decline and neglect. Murupara currently has an unemployment rate of 27 percent. That’s more than four times the national average. Most of those who do work are earning less than $21,000 a year.”

“We now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure a decent future for our people, and for future generations. By sustainably and responsibly utilising our treasured resource we can boost employment; stimulate growth, attract investment, and ignite a real sense of optimism in the region.”

“This decision isn’t just for iwi, or the Bay of Plenty. This is a visionary move with implications for the whole country.”

Mr Edwards said the intention of the project was to also create a greater hourly rate than the Government’s proposed Living Wage of $20.20 for every employee, as well as providing world class health and life insurance cover.

He said Bay of Plenty rail and port services would also benefit from the deal.