At the heart of the new Essential Freshwater regulations is the concept of Te Mana o te Wai.
Te Mana o te Wai recognises the vital importance of New Zealand’s freshwater, whose health is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities.
The Essential Freshwater regulations, through Te Mana o te Wai, put the health and wellbeing of water before providing for human health needs, and then other uses.
Through engagement with communities and tangata whenua, we are required to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai in the implementation of the new rules.
This means we must ensure that the five key requirements of Te Mana o te Wai inform our decision making as we draft new freshwater rules. These are:
- Actively involve tangata whenua in freshwater management.
- Enable the application of a diversity of systems of values and knowledge, such as mātauranga Māori, to the health and well-being of water bodies and freshwater ecosystems.
- Apply the hierarchy of obligations that puts the health and wellbeing of water above all other considerations when implementing the new rules.
- Engage with tangata whenua and communities to identify long-term visions, environmental outcomes and other elements of the National Objectives Framework.
- Adopt an integrated approach to the management of freshwater.