Freshwater farm plans to enhance sustainability of New Zealand wine

Photo courtesy New Zealand Winegrowers Inc., The Crossings

A new project will create an industry specific tool for New Zealand winegrowers to help them develop a customised freshwater farm plan for their vineyard or property.

Freshwater farm plans are being introduced across New Zealand to mitigate the impact of primary sector activity on the country’s freshwater ecosystems, and the new tool will help growers identify and manage risks and vulnerabilities from vineyard activities.

New Zealand Winegrowers announced the project, titled Project Raumatatiki, last week, and Dr Edwin Massey, general manager – sustainability New Zealand Winegrowers, said the project would assist growers in adhering to the new freshwater farm plan requirements.

“For almost 30 years our industry has operated a unique programme that now certifies over 96% of New Zealand vineyard area as sustainable. On a global stage we are proud to be widely recognised as world leaders in sustainable wine production.

“We are pleased to be working to find a pathway to integrate the new requirements into our existing Sustainable Winegrowing NZ (SWNZ) programme as much as possible. For our members, this will mean minimising costs and providing comprehensive support in navigating the regulations.

“We see this positively, as it offers an opportunity to further enhance our industry commitment to the environment through caring for our natural waterways and the supporting ecosystems.”

“I am pleased to announce that funding has been received from the Essential Freshwater Fund, which is administered by the Ministry for the Environment. This will support us with Project Raumatatiki including education and on-the-ground advice to our members,” said Dr Massey.

Project Raumatatiki will be led by Fabian Yukich, deputy chair – New Zealand Winegrowers, alongside representatives from three grapegrowing regions and central and local government to develop the project.

“We are taking a collective approach to achieve the best and most efficient outcome. Our industry prides itself on being collaborative, innovative, and forward thinking,” said Yukich.

“Working together on creating cleaner natural waterways is an evolutionary step for our industry and the SWNZ programme.”

Will Macdonald, Rangitāne o Wairau, who sits on the governance group, explained the significance behind the project’s name and its purpose.

“Through Project Raumatatiki we have an opportunity to embody rangatiratanga (leading the industry in this space), kaitiakitanga (positive change to sustaining natural resources) and kotahitanga (unity among the industry for a collective purpose).”

“The project name Raumatatiki derives from the kupu ‘raumatatiki’ which refers to unfailing and endless freshwater springs. Here, it acknowledges the importance of our water that has and will continue to sustain Aotearoa and the wine industry.”

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