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FAQs - Property sale and purchase

Is the water take consent applied to the land or the person?

Resource consents are not tied to the land, rather they are held by a person. The grandparented volume of water is tied to the actual take that was occurring prior to 15 October 2008.

That take is by its nature tied to the land (i.e. location of the bore on the property or the intake structure on the stream), but it is the person who was taking (or new owner of land upon which there is an existing take) who has the right to obtain a consent for that grandparented volume.

I’m purchasing a farm and it does have a water take consent. What should I do?

You need to ensure that transfer of this resource consent to you occurs as part of any arrangements you make. The water take consent remains to be held by the consent holder and is not tied to the land. Therefore if you want to continue using the water authorised by this consent, you must either hold the consent or have the permission of the consent holder to use it.

To transfer a consent between parties is a simple process, where both parties fill out a form and return it to Waikato Regional Council. There is no fee for this transfer.

I’m buying or have bought a dairy farm since 2008 and it doesn’t have a water take consent. What do these rules mean for me?

The grandparenting relates to what was occurring on that property prior to October 2008, rather than belonging to any owner of that land at the time. Therefore you can still apply for consent for the grandparented water even if you didn’t own the property in October 2008. However you will still be required to provide some proof of the cow numbers on the property prior to 2008. The previous owners may be willing to provide you some information to help with this. If you continue to have difficulty finding a way to prove cow numbers, get in touch with us to discuss the matter.

If you are actively purchasing a property, you may wish to speak to your lawyer about the lack of a water take consent, and perhaps consider how you might ensure you can prove 2008 cow numbers/water use.

Where a water take consent is not held potential purchasers would be wise to ask the vendor what the cow numbers were prior to October 2008 versus the current farming practices to ensure that conversion/intensification hasn’t occurred since then which may complicate the process for obtaining a water take consent. If an increase has occurred, you may wish to give us a call to discuss water allocation in your area.

How do I trade my water / buy water?

There is no official “water trading” system in place. There is the provision for any temporary or permanent transfer of whole or part of a surface water or groundwater take. That is, if you and a neighbour came to an agreement on a transfer of part or all of a water take consent one of you held, you are able to do that. Waikato Regional Council will not get involved in any negotiation or setting of any possible monetary exchanges.

There are a few limitations as to how that works:

  • It is easy to transfer a surface water take from an upstream location in a catchment to a downstream location. This is a permitted activity, and just requires you each fill out part of a form.
  • It is more involved if you want to transfer groundwater takes. They’ll need to be demonstrated to be within the same aquifer, which will involve Waikato Regional Council staff checking the proposed change. If they are not in the same aquifer, then it is probable that the transfer won’t be able to take place. There will be a cost for assessing the aquifers.
  • It is difficult to transfer water takes upstream or between aquifers. If there is a change in the environmental effects as a result of what you propose to do, we may have to decline the application to transfer.

If you want to obtain a water right and you are unable to do so because your catchment is fully allocated, we suggest you get in touch with people who have water takes upstream of you (if you want to take from surface water) or nearby groundwater users.

A good place to start to identify these parties is to go to on our online mapping package at and choose the “Resource Consents” option. Use the binoculars to find your property, then you can see all the consents granted in the area.