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 Minister for the Environment Dr Nick Smith and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy asked the Forum to assist the Government with further development and delivery of water policy reform.

On 27 November 2015 the Forum released the Fourth Report of the Land and Water Forum (pdf, 2.5MB) 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). It also recommends exclusion of livestock from waterways on plains and lowland hills, addresses a number of urban issues and suggests tools and approaches to assist the Crown’s exploration of rights and interests with iwi.

In August 2016 the Forum provided advice to Ministers on ways to amend the NPS-FM to incorporate the Macroinvertebrate Community Index (MCI) as a mandatory measure of water quality, address nitrogen as a nutrient and provide for a better focus on “swimmability”.

In June 2017 the Forum commented on the overall implementation of the NPS-FM and commented on the Ministry for the Environment's review of the NPS-FM.

In December 2017 the Forum produced an assessment of key freshwater management challenges, including what more needs to be done.

In January 2018 Minister for the Environment David Parker and Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor asked the Forum for advice on: what can be done between now and 2020 to ‘hold the line’; a nationally driven system for allocating nutrient loads, in a fair way; and how best to address sediment, within a nationally driven system and recognising fairness. That report is here.

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

Forum takes a break

The Forum has completed its current phase of work, so members have decided to take a break from July 2018, as we did in 2010 and again at the completion of the Third Report in 2012. Members are ready to gather again should we feel there is another tranche of work to do to continue to improve NZ's freshwater management system. Members will await with interest the Government's response to our latest report.

Forum advice on improving water quality

The Forum has provided advice to Ministers David Parker and Damien O'Connor on improving water quality through preventing degradation and addressing sediment and nitrogen. Download the report, and the press release.

Forum News

The Forum is pleased that recommendations made last year have now been incorporated in the latest NPS-FM - see press release. We are also pleased to release our review of implementation of the NPS-FM and commentary on MfE's implementation review.

Forum submission on 'Clean Water' discussion document

Download the Land and Water Forum submission on the Ministry for the Environment's Clean Water consultation and proposed changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Progress on implementation of recommendations

Here is a table (pdf, 311 KB) and cover note (Word, 500 KB) that sets out the Land and Water Forum Secretariat's assessment in April 2016 of which recommendations contained in the Forum's four reports have been and are being implemented by the Government, regional councils and other organisations - and to what extent. We intend this to be a living document and we will try to keep it up to date.

Launch of the Fourth Report of the Land and Water Forum

The Forum’s fourth major report addresses 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). It also recommends exclusion of livestock from waterways on plains and lowland hills, addresses a number of urban issues and suggests tools and approaches to assist the Crown’s exploration of rights and interests with iwi.

Download the report (pdf, 2.5 MB), the Chair's speech at the launch of the report and the press release.

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