Local iwi of the Golden Bay area are opposing a development they believe will destroy the pristine waters of Te Waikoropupu - the largest freshwater spring in New Zealand.
The wider people of Ngati Tama ki te Waipounamu, in the Tasman district, are opposing a development to bottle the water surrounding the spring, and mine and irrigate the surrounding land.
A submission has been made to gain a Water Conservation Order for the Te Waipounamu spring and surrounding land to be protected, and the iwi are seeking further public support for it.
"If you think of this space and you have glass bottom boats and divers, there's lots of divers in here and commercial diving trips, gold mining, a big restaurant just next door – 120-seater restaurant and a commercial take for water that we’re also fighting in the courts," one iwi member said of the development.
"It would just be ruined in my opinion.
"As we know this water is 10 years old when it comes to the surface here. By the time we find out that something is going wrong, the damage is done."
The iwi made the application for the order in February, 2017, under the Resource Management Act.
Ngati Tama said then if successful it would be a legal first and would be setting a precedent in water protection.
"I commend the applicants, Ngati Tama Ki Te Waipounamu Trust on their application. The Waikoropupu Springs are a widely treasured and unique water body," then Environment Minister Nick Smith said.
"These springs are part of what gives Golden Bay, Nelson and New Zealand a strong environmental reputation, and we must ensure they are protected for future generations."