Greenpeace activists lock themselves inside Canterbury irrigation pipes

Press release - August 2, 2017
Greenpeace is bringing construction of an enormous irrigation scheme to a halt this morning.

Environmental activists have stopped the laying of pipes for Central Plains Water, an enormous multi-million dollar irrigation scheme in Canterbury.


The scheme  is taking water out of the Rakaia river in Canterbury. Much of that water will be used to expand intensive dairying.

Several activists have locked themselves inside irrigation pipes, and inside machinery, while others are blocking the pipe trench being dug.  They are holding banners reading “Stop Big Irrigation #SaveOurRivers”.

(C) Greenpeace

Speaking from the construction site Greenpeace Campaigner Genevieve Toop says: “We’re taking a stand today because big new irrigation schemes like Central Plains Water mean more cows, and more cows means more sick rivers.”

The action comes shortly after the demise of the Ruataniwha Irrigation Dam which was forecast to drive more intensive dairying in Central Hawkes Bay.

 “We’ve stopped the Dam in Hawke’s Bay, and now we’re in Canterbury to stand up for the rivers here.” says Toop.
Central Plains Water is the biggest irrigation scheme to be built under the Government’s 480 million dollar irrigation fund.  There are another eight more irrigation schemes proposed.

“This is an enormous publicly funded irrigation scheme which will increase the dairy herd and pollute Canterbury’s rivers.  What’s worse is that there are eight more irrigation schemes just like it in the pipeline” she says.

The scheme has consent to leach hundreds of tonnes more nitrogen into the catchment which will further pollute the Selwyn River and Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. (1)

“There are already too many cows in NZ.  If we are going to have clean rivers and safe water we need fewer cows”

“The National Government is spending millions of dollars building these polluting irrigation schemes. That’s the last thing we need in the middle of a national freshwater crisis.”

More than 90,000 people have signed a petition to stop government funding of irrigation schemes.

“It is every New Zealander’s birthright to be able to swim in rivers and drink clean water without fear of becoming ill but the National Government’s support of big irrigation is taking that away.”

“The Government should end irrigation subsidies and use that money to help NZ farms transition from intensive dairying to regenerative agriculture the type of farming which cares for our rivers.”