There is concern in New Zealand about companies bottling New Zealand water and exporting it for profit. The concern arises because the water is free. In New Zealand no one owns the water. So there is a legal minefield to navigate before charging for water could happen. This is in the context of a country where mains water, called “town water” here, is far from universal.

In New Zealand it is entirely normal for a private or commercial dwelling to; either collect rainwater in underground tanks, or pump up water through a bore hole. This is not just something for isolated life-styler properties, but is also common for properties in major towns.

The way this is charged at the moment is through the pricing of “consents” to extract the water. However these charges are seen here as covering little more than administrative costs. For instance Coca Cola pays NZ$40,000 to the local council for the right to extract up to 200 cubic metres of water a day!

Interestingly, this particular application seems to have raised the fuss it has largely because the water is being exported. There is the beginning of a coherent resentment at the way Kiwis perceive their country has become something of a plaything for the rest of the world; whether it is bolt holes for the uber-rich, over-development for tourists, or exploitation of natural resources. New Zealand is rightly proud of being open to the world, but it is also proud of its natural heritage. And maybe, just maybe, the latter will be part of a movement that pushes New Zealand First to a better performance in this autumn’sĀ General Election, than currently seems likely.