Although applications for Waimea Irrigators Limited’s (WIL) water share offer have been increasing significantly in the last couple of weeks, feedback about the need for additional time has led WIL to extend the closing date by two weeks until 5 April 2018.
WIL opened an offer to purchase water shares on 8 February to fund their portion of the Waimea Community Dam. Shareholders with a Shareholder Water Augmentation Agreement will be able to apply under the Tasman Resource Management Plan to affiliate their ground water or surface water permit for water provided by the Dam, once it’s built. The original closing date was yesterday.
WIL Board member Julian Raine says although applications arrived early and steadily followed by a tremendous rush over the last week, the Board has received enough feedback from landowners and WIL Ambassadors – who have been meeting one-on-one with landowners throughout the process – that people need more time to consider the offer.
“The Board has decided on the two-week extension, which we understand is common in an initial financial offer, to allow people to make an informed decision.
“The reality is, six weeks wasn’t enough time for people,” Mr Raine says. “It’s understandable that they have a serious decision to make and they need to wrestle with a lot of information. This takes time. The Board believes it’s best to ensure prospective shareholders have that time. We want to accommodate people as much as possible and take a sensible approach.”
Mr Raine says a few key issues have come up repeatedly over the last six weeks that have challenged some landowners, and this has led to WIL not yet reaching its application target.
“We heard right from the beginning of our share offer period that landowners were confused about changes in water take rules that come into effect this November. Even though TDC sent new allocation assessments to water permit holders (bona fide reviews), they were sent last winter and many people put them aside and hadn’t fully considered the implications of what they were told until our share offer opened.
“We’ve been doing our best to fill in the information gaps and TDC staff have been responsive to queries, but there remains a lack of understanding about the real impact the water take changes will have.
“For many it’s been a shock to learn how quickly they will reach a cease-take situation in dry months under the new rules. If they purchase water shares in WIL, they won’t have to cease taking water. Once all of this is explained, people have been realising what they need to do.”
One example is the Waimea East Irrigation Scheme.
“Waimea East is instructive because the scheme’s bona fide review from TDC means their water take from November will be 52% of what it is today,” Mr Raine says. “That means every member of that scheme will have about half of the water they have now if they choose to not buy shares in WIL.
“We’ve spent lots of time working with the scheme and its members to help them come to terms with these changes, and again, this takes time.”
Mr Raine says there have been other common reactions.
“Some landowners are having to consider the future of their family estates and what they want to do with their land. Others who lease their land for horticulture purposes are having to engage in complex conversations with their lessors.”
WIL is seeking a commitment of 3,000 shares to enable it to move forward to fund its $38.6 million portion of the Dam. It is entering into a partnership with TDC to build and operate the Dam as the most cost-effective, long-term water storage solution for irrigators on the Waimea Plains and urban residents.
“Our two-week extension won’t have an impact on the overall timeline for the Dam. All other processes toward a final decision continue to proceed as they have been.”
Mr Raine says WIL Ambassadors and staff remain on call to answer questions and provide help.
“We remain optimistic we’ll get there in the end and we’re encouraged by the response to the offer so far. We just need to be respectful about this being a big decision for people and that each landowner has his or her own circumstances to consider.
“It’s clear we all want the same things: security of water supply, productive and valuable land, and a legacy for our families. Allowing a bit more time is the least we can do.”
Waimea Irrigators Limited is the issuer and offeror of the financial products found in the Product Disclosure Statement for the Offer of Water Shares in Waimea Irrigators Limited, dated 2 February 2018. This document is available for download on www.waimeairrigators.co.nz. Further copies of the document can be obtained by writing to Waimea Irrigators Limited, PO Box 3171, Richmond 7050 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.