Around eleven years ago, David and Debra Kay bought, with great excitement, a one hundred year old kauri villa on Duck Creek Road in Warkworth. Debra used to holiday here as a child, and was delighted to have found it up for sale. She remembers telling Dave it had ‘land, a river, lots of water…’ little did she know then that the water would play such an important role in their future. There was a working bore supplying the house, which they took for granted – the water was delicious. But they didn’t realise quite how good it was till they had it tested three years ago. The results were astonishing.

The best mineral waters in the world have a few things in common – they have a high pH and are therefore alkaline which negates our bodies’ tendency towards acidity. They are soft (surrounding geological formations containing silica rather than calcium or magnesium) which aids in faster absorption. They’re high in dissolved salts and electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium, to help balance cell function within the body. These qualities come usually from old, artesian water (rainwater is called ‘juvenile’ among water afficionados) which has been underground for up to thousands of years, or from mountain springs where it’s been filtered up through rock minerals from deep below the surface of the earth.

Dave and Debra discovered that their water comes from over 160m underground. It has nearly double the amount of electrolytes than its closest NZ rival – nearly five times higher than average. Its pH is 8.9 – bang on for beneficial alkalinity, and dissolved salts are nearly three times higher than the average of the top ten in NZ.

They were rather stunned. They soon came to the realisation that they had been given an incredibly important gift, and they thought very hard about what they should do with it. They could have just got a tanker and started a delivery business – and they did, for a bit. But they had a huge awareness of the value of this beautiful, unusual water – and they couldn’t stand to see people wash their cars with it.

They began to research bottled water. The results were profoundly depressing. In 2015 around 50 billion single-use plastic bottles were sold in USA alone. To make the bottles, it takes 17 million barrels of oil, and three times the amount of water to produce the bottle than it does to fill it. Even worse, less than 25% are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill, or the sea – wasting nearly a billion dollars worth of plastic. Our own small recycling contribution in NZ is packed off to China, since we lack the facilities to recycle them here.

Inspired by a growing spate of municipal bans on plastic water bottles in the US and Canada, Dave and Debra decided to make a difference with their water. Most of the appalling carbon footprint of plastic water bottles comes from production and transportation. They thought they could change both.

Dave has utilised his hydraulic engineering background (along with his highly developed instinct to tinker) to develop a brand-new, revolutionary type of plastic bag in which to put their water. It’s not bio-degradable – you can’t put water in biodegradable plastic as it will, of course, degrade. But it is very clever – and it’s an enormous leap forward in the amount of plastic used: 80% less than a bottle, or less than half the weight of a sipper cap. And they can be reused or recycled right here in NZ. In fact, Dave and Debra encourage you to bring your clean pouches back to them; they’ll ensure that they’re recycled into more bags.

Their product is called ‘Pure Pouch’. It’s not available in retail outlets, but you can buy boxes of pouches and they’ll be delivered to your door. The water pouches (500ml single serve at this stage, one litre bags are on the way) are unique. They are incredibly strong, so they won’t pop – don’t use them as a water bomb, they’ll knock you out. You can put them in a schoolbag or handbag, and they’ll sit in a car cupholder perfectly well. Despite the strength of the plastic, you can grab one corner and stretch it out so it makes a little straw. Cut off the tip and you can drink it easily. If you don’t drink it all, plop it onto its bottom and it’ll sit there nicely, sealing up the outlet all by itself as it does so.

The plastic is scent-permeable – pop a piece of fruit into the box of pouches overnight – in the morning the water will taste of and be scented by the fruit. No added chemicals for a fantastic flavour, which the kids will love. Banana and pineapple work well and Dave and Debra can’t wait to try feijoas. They’ve even made rose water as a skin hydrator. (Note: this permeability also works with football socks and bait they’ve discovered to their chagrin, so be careful where you store your Pure Pouches!).

Further eco angles: the strong, 100% renewable cardboard delivery boxes are designed to work with no packing tape, and are printed with minimal, bio-degradable ink, perfect for recycling. And the boxes are A4 size deliberately – perfect for reuse as household storage. Dave and Debra’s distribution model piggy-backs on existing transport systems for a fast delivery with minimal handling, lowering the carbon footprint.

They take their guardianship of the water, and the planet, very seriously. They don’t feel they own this water, but still… Dave has some other water ideas that need funding, including a revolutionary water-tank pre-filter which could do away with expensive ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ post-collection filtering. And they have to make a living after all.

However ¬– they will keep the tap by their driveway at 11 Duck Creek Road where, for some time now, anyone has been able to fill a container for a gold coin koha. And if there’s a fundraising event they can help out with – give them a call. They’re giving it away at the Matakana Fruit Loop this year. Look out for their groovy black vintage bike and flag them down. And give them a pat on the back while you’re at it.