A Common Direction for Water
Management in New Zealand

Water provides great opportunities for all of us – for our ecologies and environments, our farms and our cities, for recreation and for tourists, as well as for energy production and industry. It is a source of life and food, and it is a central part of our identity, particularly for iwi. Water thus has multiple uses and sustains multiple values, which sometimes complement each other, and sometimes conflict.

To maximise these opportunities for now as well as for future generations, and to protect and enhance our unique heritage, we need to continue to develop a better way to manage water in New Zealand – less confrontational, more collaborative, and more effective.

The Land and Water Forum brings together a range of industry groups, environmental and recreational NGOs, iwi, scientists, and other organisations with a stake in freshwater and land management. The Forum’s members are joined by active observers from local and central government.

The Forum’s objective is to develop a shared vision and a common way forward among all those with an interest in water, through a stakeholder-led collaborative process.

The first phase of the Forum’s work lasted from August 2009 to August 2010 and resulted in the report A Fresh Start for Freshwater (pdf 1.07MB).

On 18 May 2012, the Forum released the Second Report of the Land and Water Forum (pdf 1.75 MB). It provides a national framework within which Regional Councils will work with their communities and iwi to set freshwater objectives and develop limits for its use. It provides a consistent and transparent process for setting objectives and limits, and one that will lead to effective and enduring outcomes, including greater certainty for investment and development.

On 15 November 2012, the Forum released the Third Report of the Land and Water Forum (pdf, 4 MB) on managing within limits. It recommends integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices to improve water quality and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

In February 2015 Ministers for the Environment and Primary Industries asked the Forum to assist the Government with further development and delivery of water policy reform. The Forum will provide advice by 30 September 2015 on how to maximise the economic benefits of freshwater while managing within water quality and quantity limits that are set consistent with the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM). By September 2016 the Forum will contribute to the further population of the National Objectives Framework and comment on the overall implementation of the NPS-FM. By December 2017 the Forum will review the overall changes to water policy and its implementation, lessons learned and further work required to achieve the overall objective of improved water management in New Zealand.

Find out more about the Land and Water Forum’s work

Forum News

Third Phase of the Land and Water Forum

1 April 2015

The Forum has been asked by Minister for the Environment Hon Dr Nick Smith and Minister for Primary Industries Hon Nathan Guy to assist the government with further development and delivery of water policy reform. 

Download the letter and the terms of reference for this third phase of work for 2015-2017.


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