Targeted Water Allocation Policy

Te Kaupapa Here Tuaritanga Wai Arotahi

When we allocate water, we need to provide for the wellbeing of the waterway and recognise the special relationship tāngata whenua have with water.

We are considering a new policy, the Targeted Water Allocation Policy. This policy would set aside 20% of unallocated water available for allocation to be used for environmental enhancement, marae and papakainga, or developing Māori land. The water could be used for other purposes with a contribution to a fund supporting Māori wellbeing.

Giving effect to Te Mana o te Wai

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 requires us to manage freshwater in a way that gives effect to Te Mana o te Wai. It also requires that tāngata whenua are actively involved in freshwater management (including decision-making), and Māori freshwater values are identified and provided for.

The draft Freshwater Plan Change must give effect to these principles.

Although the Targeted Water Allocation Policy would be a change in the way council allocates wai, it forms an important part of giving effect to Te Mana me to Mauri o te Wai in Te Taitokerau.

Making water allocation fairer

Council currently allocates water on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Council also nearly always renews existing consents when they come up for renewal. This has been shown to have negative impacts, both because it is difficult to consider the combined impact of takes on a catchment, and because it is an unfair system which unreasonably favours existing users and excludes new users (including Māori) from being able to equitably access freshwater resources, especially where freshwater in a catchment is already close to or already fully allocated.

Looking to the future

There are provisions in the Natural & Built Environments Act (the replacement to the RMA) which specifically require the Regional Planning Committee to set a water allocation policy or approach to move towards a more equitable model which allows for strategic and deliberate water allocation in the future.

The Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group (TWWAG) provided recommendations to council about how to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai. These recommendations include a policy that sets aside 20% of allocatable water to contribute to environmental, social, economic and cultural enhancement.

Read TWWAG’s recommendations: Ngā Roimata o Ngā Atua: The Tears of Ranginui and Papatūānuku (PDF 4.45 MB) 

Council is considering a water allocation policy recommended by the Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group and Te Taitokerau Māori and Council working party. This policy would reserve a portion of available water for specific uses (the proposed portion is 20% of remaining available wai after allocations to water take consents are met). The reserved water would be available for environmental enhancement, marae, papakainga, and Māori land development. It would also be available for other uses, with a contribution to a fund.

If you already have a resource consent, this policy would not affect you unless you apply for more water when your consent is due for renewal. If your water take is a permitted activity, then this policy would not affect you either.

Learn more about the Targeted Water Allocation Policy

The policy would reserve 20% of the remaining wai available – available wai is the amount that can be taken within allocation limits in the Regional Plan (see Section H.4) that has not already been allocated to permitted and consented takes.

For example, if a river had 10 cubic metres per second available for allocation after consented and permitted takes, 2 cubic metres per second would be set aside for the purposes in the policy. However, in a river with only 1 cubic metre per second available for allocation, the wai set aside would be 0.2 cubic metres.

No. The policy would not impact on existing resource consents or their currently consented water take.

The policy would not necessarily reduce the amount of available water by 20%. Resource consents to take wai within the 20% allocation could still be granted for other uses with a contribution to the fund (Clause c) or for the other activities listed (e.g. environmental enhancement, and domestic use by papakainga and marae).

The wai would be set aside once the policy becomes operative.

Access to wai set aside would be through a resource consent process to ensure the wai use aligns with the policy.

Council would need to include Regional Plan rules for contributions to the fund in consultation with tāngata whenua1. These would set out:

  • the purpose of the contribution
  • how the level of the financial contribution would be determined, and
  • when the financial contribution would be required
  • how it would be allocated.

Note: The Regional Plan currently does not include rules for financial contributions and we have not included such rules in the draft Freshwater Plan Change either. Draft rules for financial contributions will be considered once council has taken into account feedback on this policy.

1 In accordance with Section 77E of the RMA