Engagement & consultation

We're required to develop a new plan for freshwater in our region as part of the government’s work to restore and protect the health of New Zealand waterways.

As we develop the Freshwater Plan we will engage with tangata whenua and communities in a variety of ways.

On this page you can find out about the way we’re engaging and the opportunities for when you can get involved.

We’ve broken our engagement into three phases:

Phase 1: Pre-draft
(2021 – end of 2022)
  • Getting feedback and advice from a range of tangata whenua, government, industry and environmental groups & organisations on what the Freshwater Plan should cover.
  • Awareness raising with the public about the plan change.
  • Asking people what they think is important about our freshwater and what needs to change (This will start in Nov 2022).
Phase 2: Draft
(June – Aug 2023)
  • This is when we share our draft Freshwater Plan with the public for feedback. This will be our main engagement phase with tangata whenua and our communities.
Phase 3: Notification
(start April 2024)
  • This is the formal legal process, where we release our proposed Freshwater Plan and anyone can make a submission and then speak to the Freshwater Hearing Panel.

We decided it was better if we came out to the public with a draft rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper because:

  • We already know a lot about what our communities value about our freshwater systems through work and engagement we’ve done in the past.
  • The Freshwater Plan is really complex – and we think people will be able to provide better feedback if they can see what the whole package of provisions might look like and have something to consider.
  • We don’t have a lot of time. We are legally required to notify the Freshwater Plan (Phase 3 above) by the end of 2024.

The Primary Sector Liaison Group (PSLG) and the Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group (TWWAG) have both been set up to provide us with detailed advice for developing the Freshwater Plan.

The PSLG is made up of representatives from primary sector industry organisations (e.g. Fonterra, Dairy NZ, Federated Farmers, Beef & Lamb NZ, Northland Wood Council and Horticulture NZ).

The TWWAG is made up of tangata whenua technical experts with a wide range of freshwater kaitiaki expertise and experience. TWWAG was established by council on the recommendations of Te Taitokerau Māori and Council to provide advice to council from a tangata whenua perspective.

TWWAG’s focus is on the recognition of and provision for tangata whenua rights, interests and responsibilities in relation to the Freshwater Plan change guided by te Tiriti o Waitangi and tikanga Māori.

Both groups have been meeting regularly since 2020.

One of the outputs of the Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group is to provide advice on a tangata whenua engagement plan. This is currently being developed, with implementation planned to start August or September 2022.

Korero mai

We want to know what tangata whenua think should be done differently when it comes to freshwater.

If your marae, hapū or iwi are keen to discuss the Freshwater Plan and let us know your views, or show us areas of wai or awa that are important to you, we can meet kanohi ki te kanohi. Get in touch and let us know what you'd like to do.

Call us: 0800 002 004 | Email us: [email protected]

You can also use our online mapping tool to tell us what you think needs to be done differently to improve water quality.

This is a really great place to find more up-to-date detail about everything to do with freshwater in Te Taitokerau - www.nrc.govt.nz/freshwaterplan

A key requirement of the Freshwater Plan is the concept of Te Mana o te Wai - it is essentially about protecting the mauri of wai, and restoring the balance between water, our environment and our communities. We’ve prepared an information source specifically for tangata whenua:

These are the ways you can get involved:

  • You shared your views with us on what’s important about our freshwater and what needs to change (Online hui 14 November 2022)
  • Provide feedback on the draft Freshwater Plan (June – Aug 2023)
  • Make a submission on the proposed Freshwater Plan (April 2024)
  • Get in touch with the Policy and Planning team - 0800 002 004 or [email protected]

We recently held an online hui to korero about the freshwater plan change and how Māori can get involved. Check out the full session here:

Much of our early engagement has been about raising awareness that a freshwater plan change was underway and what it might mean for communities. We’ve been talking about what Northland’s ‘baseline state’ of freshwater health is right now and there’s also a brief survey where you can drop a pin on a map and give us information about a particular freshwater spot that’s important to you.