Christchurch anti-water bottling campaigners win long running legal battle

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jul 20, 2022 |

The Court of Appeal challenge by Aotearoa Water Action against water bottling consents granted by Canterbury Regional Council to Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited, has been successful.

In late 2017 Environment Canterbury (ECan) granted consents for Cloud Ocean Water and Rapaki Natural Resources to take up to 24 million litres of water per day from shallow aquifers beneath Belfast.

The judgement concluded that the consents were not lawfully granted and the High Court decision, along with the Council’s decisions granting consents, should be set aside. This means that Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited no longer have the consents to carry on their bottling operation.

AWA spokesperson Peter Richardson said the decision is testament to the relentless support of the public and AWA would like to thank them.

He said it had been a long wait for the public who have strongly backed the group’s legal challenge and donated funds to help the court case proceed.

March to Save Our Water, held in March 2019, saw thousands of people march through Christchurch reflecting the huge public concern. The court action has also been assisted by a $50,000 grant from Christchurch City Council.

AWA is considering how this decision may affect other situations and consents involving the taking and use of groundwater, particularly in Canterbury.

Richardson said that the court case is extremely important for the future of water security in New Zealand.

“Parts of New Zealand are already experiencing water shortages. We need to make sure we are protecting our water for future generations.”


  • ECan granted the consents without public notification.

  • In December 2018 a Commissioner appointed by ECan allowed Cloud Ocean’s consent to be varied to allow water to be taken from a new bore at a depth of 180m sparking concern from the Christchurch City Council about the potential effects on Christchurch’s drinking water supply.

  • In December 2017 Aotearoa Water Action challenged water bottling consents granted by the Canterbury Regional Council to Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited.

  • In 2018, an initial hearing ruled in favour of AWA, and that the water bottling companies could not rely on old industrial consents to bottle water at the Belfast sites.

  • In 2019 the High Court upheld the process by which the consents were granted.

  • On 20 July 2022 the High Court ruling was overturned.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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