A Chinese-owned company has applied to draw up to 580 million litres of water a year from the pristine Otakiri Springs, near Whakatane, to bottle and ship overseas.
At a time when the commercialisation of freshwater is a sensitive election issue, the bid by the Nongfu Spring subsidiary is set to open the political floodgates.
Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is promising to crack down on royalty-free use of New Zealand's limited water resources. And National's Minister Nick Smith says his party has asked a technical group to look into charging for bottling water, but the report won't be finished until after next month's election. See more