The agreement, which covers the area from the Waitaki dam to Burkes Pass, comes after farmers campaigned for government water allocation promises made in the late 1960s to be upheld.

The Mackenzie Basin is one of New Zealand’s largest areas of farmland, and the plan will provide irrigation for up to 60 farms and stations. It will help to protect the fragile environment of the basin, which has had to contend with exceptionally dry conditions.