Newshub poll: 87pct say charge royalties on water

The exporting of New Zealand water looks likely to be a major election issue.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows 87 percent of New Zealanders are unhappy that exporters are able to obtain the water for next-to-nothing then send it offshore for big profits.

Water consents are very cheap - and profits are big.

The support for charging a royalty so that Kiwis get some of the money back is universal:

Newshub poll: 87pct say charge royalties on water
Newshub poll: 87pct say charge royalties on water

Asked if exporters should pay a royalty on the water so that taxpayers get some benefit, 87 percent of Kiwis said yes.

9 percent of Kiwis said no, and 4 percent said they didn't know.

The Government has previously been critical of the idea of royalties, but it's attitude is really starting to change.

There is at least a review of water pricing with the Prime Minister saying "We want to get a good look across that system and then make some moves."

Greens Co-Leader James Shaw says "The vast majority of New Zealanders think that these companies shouldn’t be able to get something for nothing, and then to make money out of it. I mean that's just tacitly unreasonable."

Otakiri Springs in the Bay of Plenty is a perfect example of the debate.

Chinese company Nongfu Springs is trying to buy it, and take it to the next level - like this - its bottling factory in China.

And neighbours like Maureen Fraser don't like it.

"It's a simple fact that we're essentially giving something away for free that is a finite source," she says.

Otariki Springs consent allows a take of 700,000 litres of water a day, and the prospective buyers want to take it to 5 million litres a day.

The consent costs just $2003 a year and doesn't expire until 2026.

Labour Environment spokesperson David Parker says "Royalties should be paid to New Zealanders for the privilege of using that water just as it is for gravel, or oil and gas"

Nongfu's purchase of Otakiri Springs is currently before the Overseas Investment Office.

But that's just because of the size of the land - the value of the water resource isn't taken into account.

It's now clearer than ever that water is a major election problem for the Government.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted June 2-12. 1000 people were surveyed, 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.