Water storage projects in Northland will receive $18.5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said it would increase horticulture earnings by $150m each year and create up to 1150 jobs.
Mr Jones said the region was vulnerable to droughts and floods, so better access to water will give landowners greater options to utilise their land, develop new markets and maintain and grow a skilled workforce.
The funding will go to Northland Regional Council, which would work with other councils, iwi and the community.
Minister for Economic Development David Parker said the funding would be used initally for feasibility work, then construction.