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Essential Freshwater Package

Essential Freshwater Package

Updated 17 November 2021 1:41pm

Water is one of the most precious taonga in Aotearoa. Not only do our waterways provide drinking water and support for industries such as farming and tourism, but they are also valued for mahinga kai, education, tourism, and ecological health.

We support the changes made by the Government, which aim to prevent further degradation of our waterways in the immediate future, and reverse the damage made to these unique ecosystems in the past. By taking immediate action, we hope to contribute to restoring our waterways to a healthy state over the next generation. We will work towards achieving realistic solutions to implementing the new regulations within our region.

New national regulations

In August 2020 the Government announced changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) for protecting and restoring the health of New Zealand’s waterways is a matter of national significance. The new requirements, which come into effect on 3 September 2020, advise local governments on how to fulfil their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Download the engagement structure for Freshwater Implementation

Freshwater Implementation Group has been established by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to oversee the implementation of the new requirements, and ensure this is consistent on a national scale. 

Regional implementation

Greater Wellington is responsible for implementing the new regulations, monitoring and compliance within our region. We are working with landowners, affected businesses and other industry groups as these new rules roll out, providing information and support to ensure the changes are understood by our communities.

Our own regional Proposed Natural Resources Plan (PNRP) also safeguards our environment and waterways. The decisions on the PNRP were publicly notified in July 2019, and reflect the specific values of our region’s communities.

We know the changes outlined above may be confusing, but we’re here to help. We are undertaking a detailed analysis of the new regulations and how they link with our PNRP, and we will be sharing more information in future on what this means for regional implementation.

If you are unsure how these changes affect you, please call 0800 496 734 or email

Te Mana o te Wai

At the heart of the new regulations around freshwater management is ‘Te Mana o te Wai’, a concept and framework which is derived out of Te Ao Māori. This concept recognises the intrinsic value of New Zealand’s freshwater, whose health is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities.

The Essential Freshwater regulations address tangata whenua values and interests across all well-beings. The new regulations solidify relationships between tangata whenua and councils, and encourage further protection of Māori values.

Immediate actions to stop degradation of our waterways

We will also be making decisions on resource consents including setting clearly defined conditions.

Medium-term changes – farm planning

Many farmers already have and use farm plans. Through an amendment to the RMA, the Government will make it mandatory to have a freshwater module in a farm plan.

This is not required immediately. The exact requirements for the mandatory freshwater module will be developed over the next 12 months, and will be prioritised in catchments that have the highest need for protection and improvement.


We have been working to improve the water quality in our region in a way that incorporates mana whenua values and interests in freshwater, and incorporates this into the PNRP. 

To achieve this, we established Whaitua committees within our region. The committees include locals, iwi, local authority representatives and Greater Wellington representatives, and are tasked with ways to maintain and improve the quality of freshwater in their whaitua (the Māori word for space or catchment). Each committee will develop a Whaitua implementation Programme (WIP) with their communities.

For more information, head to our Whaitua committees page.