The Hurunui District and its communities are highly dependent on agriculture for their long-term sustainability. Historically, this North Canterbury district is subject to frequent and extended droughts that impact harshly on its agricultural productivity, threatening the stability and sustainability of its communities.
In October 2000, a meeting of some 200 local farmers in the Hawarden Hall resulted in a working group titled ‘Hurunui Community Water Development Project’ being formed to look into water storage options for the Hawarden and Waikari catchments, with a view to future-proofing and protecting their farming communities against droughts.
The Hurunui Irrigation and Power Trust (HIPT) was formed in May 2003 to collectively represent the interests of farmers. With the assistance of Enterprise North Canterbury, the Trust was joined by MainPower NZ Ltd, Ngai Tahu Forest Estates and David Teece (who owned a potential storage site) to form an unincorporated joint venture called Hurunui Water Group. This group advanced pre-feasibility studies which showed that an irrigation scheme was viable. This work was part-funded by Governments’ Sustainable Farming Fund, now known as Crown Irrigation Investments limited (CIIL).
So, in mid-2008, the Hurunui Water Project Ltd was incorporated as a limited liability company to advance the project.
Hurunui Water Project was initiated by this group of people, all of whom share a vision to see the Hurunui District become a more productive and sustainable landscape.