Frequently asked questions

Ngā patapatai


Answers to your questions at our online hui

We had plenty of great questions at the 30 November online hui. Please find the answers below.

Question 1: With the confirmation that the NBEA [Natural and Built Environment Act] will be repealed within 100 days (moving from first in first served to fair and equitable water allocation) and the change of councillors at NRC, is this likely to change the direction of the draft plan?

  • The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 is in place under the Resource Management Act (not the NBEA). We acknowledge the new government has also signalled replacement of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM). However, Northland still has significant issues with freshwater, which our draft Freshwater Plan Change attempts to address, and we still see value in consulting on freshwater issues and potential remedies. Pending any change in government direction, we intend to continue consulting on the draft as the feedback received will be valuable regardless of change to the NPSFM.

Question 2: How current are these maps statistics?

  • Baseline states of water quality attributes were calculated from 2015-2019. These were needed to develop the draft Freshwater Plan Change. We update monitoring results regularly.
    Find more environmental data

Question 3: Where can we access detailed protocols on coliform monitoring methods? Not all E. coli is bad and there may even be some immunological benefits to low levels of some of the bad ones. Most rural NZ have high coliform levels in their drinking water which runs off the roof (tank water). There are no cows or sheep on my roof!

The report found a link between agriculture and E. coli, with cows and sheep appearing to be a main source of faecal contamination in Northland rivers.

Question 4: Have you done any detailed work to understand the economic implications associated with the proposed 10m riparian zones and the proposed levels of stock exclusion?

  • We have looked at the costs associated with a range of scenarios for rules that manage stock access to waterbodies and Highly Erodible Land. These are estimated at the farm level and use average prices to calculate a total Northland cost for the options. However, we have not yet looked at the impact on the Northland economy (regional GDP) as a whole.

    Our cost estimates are set out in The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion (PDF 1.37MB)

Question 5: Is it fair to assume that the economic impact from a production and financial perspective for farmers is largely unknown? For example, would NRC be able to quantify the impact on GDP, jobs and impact on export value from Northland, across both the primary and associated manufacturing sectors across all of the proposed riparian and stock exclusion levels? Would the next steps be to consider this?

  • We will evaluate the costs and benefits of options as part of the Proposed Freshwater Plan Change, which we will prepare once feedback on the draft plan change has closed. Public feedback will help inform this analysis, and there will be an opportunity to have your say.

Question 6: Regarding municipal treatment systems discharging less to water, I assume land application will be the preferred method?

  • Yes, there is a preference for land disposal. The draft plan change rules seek to prohibit new treatment plant discharges to water and set the bar higher for renewal of existing discharges.

    For more detail, see draft rules C.6.2.X Replacement wastewater treatment plant discharge to water – non-complying activity and C.6.2.Y Wastewater treatment plant discharge – prohibited activity in the Draft Freshwater Plan Change 2023 (PDF 12.08 MB).

Question 7: In terms of loss of productive land associated with a 10m riparian strip and stock exclusion on slopes steeper than 25%, have you done any modelling to forecast how many farms will remain financially viable and be able to contribute to the economy and exports?

  • This would require a detailed understanding of the financial position of individual farms, which we don't have.

    We have estimated costs of stock exclusion scenarios and have used average prices to calculate a total Northland cost for the options. However, we have not confirmed rules at this stage.

    Our cost estimates are set out in The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion (PDF 1.37MB).

Question 8: What incentives are going to be offered to encourage the proposed setbacks? Accreditation, financial support?

  • In addition to rules, we have set out some actions council could take to support outcomes for freshwater including funding and advice for stock exclusion, rates relief, and subsidies for consent applications. Find out more in the Draft Action Plan (PDF 1.56MB).

Question 9: Where can I find the slope maps and stock exclusion waterway maps?

Question 10: I would challenge Marty's comment that erosion cannot be prevented. Totally disagree because a lot can be prevented. Isn't [that] what this hui is about?

  • Erosion is a natural process and can occur under dense native cover. That said, we can target activities that make sediment loss from streambank erosion and highly erodible land worse.

Question 11: How can I submit accurate feedback if I cannot quantify the amount of land I will lose from stock exclusion from both riparian setbacks and slope exclusion? Is there no way the maps could be improved to identify the amount of land affected per title?

  • We have estimated the costs associated with a range of scenarios for rules that manage stock access to waterbodies and Highly Erodible Land (these include opportunity costs). These are estimated at the farm level and use average prices to calculate a total Northland cost for the options.

    Our cost estimates are set out in The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion (PDF 1.37MB).

    We have not confirmed any draft rule changes for stock exclusion and we cannot look at each individual farm in Northland.

    Please note that rules are very likely to allow exceptions through resource consent and are not a 'ban' on stock access to these areas.

    Furthermore, we will evaluate the costs and benefits of options as part of the Proposed Freshwater Plan Change, which we will prepare once feedback on the draft plan change has closed. Public feedback will help inform this analysis, and there will be an opportunity to have your say.

Question 12: Is it worth getting involved in this process?

  • Definitely, yes. We need people's input. Even if government direction changes, we will still have major challenges with our freshwater that we need to address. Your feedback will help identify options and solutions.

    Give feedback

Question 13: Does NRC have legal grounds to force land use change on farmers? If so, we should be compensated for loss of income and loss of value of our properties – has this been considered? If not, why should we stand the cost?

  • Rules for stock access to riparian areas or Highly Erodible Land have not been identified at this stage and we are looking for feedback on options.

    We can develop rules for these activities as part of our responsibility to manage water quality under Section 30 of the Resource Management Act (RMA). There are already rules in the Regional Plan restricting stock access to waterbodies. In addition, Government direction in the NPSFM requires us to identify ways to improve freshwater to meet national standards and to achieve environmental outcomes for freshwater.

    The RMA does not require compensation, but people can challenge a rule in a regional plan where they consider it would render land incapable of reasonable use (see Section 85 RMA). If a resource consent is required for an activity, it does not necessarily mean the land is incapable of reasonable use.

    The Draft Action Plan includes potential measures to recognise costs for rural landowners - these include reduced rural rates and subsidies for resource consents. We'd be interested in your thoughts on these.


Question 14: Has NRC considered the wider economic implications of the stock exclusion policy? I.e. the effect on local businesses and their staff, not just farmers? Given the suggested alternative is wholesale planting of pines, forestry does not require a lot of the businesses we use.

  • The pine scenario was included to demonstrate that other options are available, but this is a decision for landowners.

    We are not suggesting a complete ban on stock access to these areas. Rules are very likely to enable exceptions through resource consents. This may enable ongoing stock access if adverse effects are minor, for example if stock intensity is very low, stock access is low frequency, stock type is unlikely to cause issues, or other mitigations are in place.

    We have looked at the costs associated with a range of stock exclusion scenarios. These include an estimate of total costs region-wide. However, we have not yet looked at the impact on the Northland economy (regional GDP) as a whole.

    Our cost estimates are set out in The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion (PDF 1.37MB).

Question 15: Is the expectation that farmers will have to maintain setbacks and how is it expected that we will fund this or have time to do the work required? I.e. keeping kikuyu under control, keeping other weeds under control, pest control, trying to establish plantings in areas that regularly flood and the subsequent replanting when they get washed away.

  • The effort landowners put in to maintain areas within riparian setbacks will be a decision for landowners to make. There may be some assistance from NRC for planting and/or fencing, but we are unlikely to be able to support a major proportion of the costs across Northland.

    There may be some productive uses these areas could be put to, but this may not be an option in all cases. We'd appreciate your feedback on the costs of this. For example, should we increase funding and support for control of pest plants?

Question 16: Re. waterways testing, I don’t know what the problem is on my farm as the water isn’t tested so what’s the point of a one size fits all rule of fencing and stock exclusion if we don’t know that it’ll have any effect because we don’t actually know what or where the problem is? Firstly the problem needs to be identified – what is it and where is it occurring? Then it can be addressed. We need a simple, inexpensive test we can do ourselves on a regular basis – do such test kits exist and if not are there any plans to develop them?

  • NRC and LAWA (Land Air Water Aotearoa) host water quality and ecology monitoring data online (see links below).

    NRC staff monitor more than 60 individual river sites throughout the region's 1,000km+ river networks monthly, taking water samples and measuring a range of water quality attributes (E. coli, sediment clarity, phosphorous and nitrogen, etc). It's impractical for staff to monitor everywhere, but our monitoring network has been designed to give information about water quality at the catchment scale.

    We know that our biggest issues are sediment, E. coli, and degraded ecosystem health. We know the causes are highly erodible soils that are in pasture or poorly managed, faecal contamination, and removed riparian habitat, respectively). We know that these issues persist across Northland.

    It's possible that there will be low levels of contamination in the headwaters within a catchment. But there are cumulative effects. Many slightly contaminated headwaters can lead to severely contaminated waterways downstream. We expect that by increasing setback distances, less contaminants will enter the waterways. We don't expect to eliminate contamination completely, but by reducing the overall loads, we can improve waterway health throughout each catchment.

    For water quality testing, there are ways to do this yourself. NZ Landcare Trust have some good resources:

See the links below for the monitoring data available in Northland:

Question 17: If you go ahead with stock exclusion how can you guarantee this will work? If the landowners are paying for this and have already fenced their areas and planted areas, who pays for the alterations to the fencing?

  • The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion outlines our current thinking and knowledge from our environmental monitoring, and provides discussion around different riparian setback options (3m, 5m, and 10m). We know that 3-5m provides good filtering of sediment and E. coli, but doesn't necessarily provide the ecosystem benefits and robust streambank erosion protection that a 10m setback could provide where the right plants are growing.

    We can't require landowners to plant these riparian areas or direct them to particular activities. We expect that farmers will manage areas to their abilities and needs, whether that means leaving riparian areas in grass to make hay, growing crops for baleage and fodder, growing trees for nuts, fruit, and/or fodder, or planting in manuka and kanuka for honey (for example).

    We note that the draft rules are not yet confirmed, and providing exemptions to existing fences is an option that can be drafted into the rules - we don't want to 'punish' landowners who have already done the right thing. On costs, landowners are ultimately responsible for how their properties are managed, though there are options for council to consider assisting with funding for fencing (like our Environment Fund), advocating for additional funds from central government to look at programmes like the Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme, and looking at rates rebates or a similar tool.

Question 18: Why can’t the council look at education and site inspection instead as you state every farm is different rather than overall broad rules.

  • We do this through our Land Management team, and it is one tool in our toolbox. By using both education/advocacy and compliance/enforcement, we have more influence on managing effects on our freshwater environments.

    Having broad rules that apply to the entire region reflects the nature of the common issues across the entire region. Sedimentation, E. coli, and degraded ecosystem health is prevalent almost everywhere in Northland.

    Every landowner can manage their activities in their own manner, provided they can achieve the outcomes identified and provided for by the rules set out in the Regional Plan. The rules set a permitted baseline - if activities cannot meet this, there is a consent pathway which will be unique for each applicant.

    Regardless of the outcome of the changes to the draft rules, we will continue our existing outreach and monitoring programmes. There may be increases to resources for these programmes in the future, but funding and talent availability is an external factor that must also be considered.

Question 19: With the proposed results around harvesting plantation forestry and the 40ha rule, have you given any consideration to the economic viability of this and the potential loss of employment in the forestry and wood processing industries that could result due to landblocks of this size in more isolated areas likely not being economically viable to harvest? If people then choose to plant pine for carbon farming as harvesting is no longer economically viable, have the implications for biodiversity, fire management and erosion been considered?

  • Rule C.8.4.2A in the draft Freshwater Plan Change sets out requirements for vegetation clearance on Erosion Prone Land or Highly Erodible Land. Up to 40ha of clearance within a 12 month period where at least 75% woody vegetation cover is maintained on all areas of the property mapped as Erosion Prone Land or Highly Erodible Land 1 or Highly Erodible Land 2 is a permitted activity.

    View the maps

    There are existing rules within the National Environmental Standard for Commercial Forestry (NES-CF) which require harvest plans and compliance with a range of permitted activities. Under the draft Freshwater Plan Change rules, clear-cut harvesting could be undertaken with a resource consent - an application for which would include, at minimum, the proposed harvest management that would be required to harvest under permitted activity rules. A consent process enables us to impose conditions to manage particular values to protect freshwater. Economic effects on the wider industry as a result of imposing amendments to the rules have not been quantified, although they are considered not to be a major increase on those in government standards and regulations (NES-CF).

    We cannot prevent landowners from planting pine as long as they abide by the rules, but protection of biodiversity values and management of erosion are definitely addressed by the rules for afforestation, harvests, and associated earthworks within the existing and draft rules.

Question 20: Whilst I appreciate rules are important, is it not possible to regulate results/outcomes not methodologies. I do not believe that we should focus on carrots & sticks at the expense of citizens’ innovation to mitigate.

  • The Freshwater Plan Change process is directed by the NPSFM. This legal document is very prescriptive, and requires under Clause 3.12 that every regional council:
    • must identify limits on resource use that will achieve the target attribute states and any nutrient outcomes needed to achieve target attribute states; and
    • must include those limits as rules in its regional plan; and
    • may prepare an action plan; and
    • may impose conditions on resource consents to achieve target attribute states or any nutrient outcomes needed to achieve target attribute states.

So, while the Resource Management Act generally allows councils to regulate outcomes, in this case the NPSFM requires the regulation of both outcomes and limits.

We recognise that there are many innovations that are in practice and being developed. The intention with setting rules is not to prevent innovative mitigations, only to prevent further degradation of the health of our water. If there are mitigations in place or planned that contribute to improvement of our water, these can be adopted through a resource consent process and potentially through a Freshwater Farm Plan once these roll out.

Freshwater Farm Plans are provided for under a separate piece of legislation but seek to provide similar outcomes. These do not apply to all activities (only farms greater than 20ha for arable/pastoral use, 5ha or more for horticulture, or 20ha or more of combined use), so a baseline must be defined for the region (which will capture smaller farmlets and lifestyle blocks).

Learn more about Freshwater Farm Plans at environment.govt.nz

Question 21: We have a evolving wetland so how do you intend to work out a boundary line when the waterway changes regularly?

  • The existing rules in the Northland Regional Plan (Rule C.8.1.2 in particular) set out the stock exclusion requirements for natural wetlands over 500m2. Constructed wetlands are not subject to these rules.

    The draft Freshwater Plan Change has not identified draft rules for stock exclusion. Instead, we are consulting on options. It is likely we would take a pragmatic approach to the location of wetland fencing, and we recognise that wetlands can expand over time and/or seasonally. The main aim is to restrict damage by stock and we do not expect that fences would have to be moved repeatedly.

    Wetlands are identified through a range of measures, including dominant vegetation, soil types, and water levels. Based on the definition of 'natural wetland' in the Regional Plan, the following are not subject to stock exclusion rules:
    • wet pasture, damp gully heads
    • areas where water temporarily ponds after rain
    • pasture containing patches of rushes
    • artificial water storage facilities, detention dams, irrigation reservoirs, etc.

If there is any doubt over the extent of natural wetlands on your property, contact us and we will try to help.

Question 22: Of the areas that have been potentially identified as "stock exclusion zones" do you know how much of this land is actually currently being grazed by livestock as opposed to being in native forest or pine trees or in the process of being planted in trees? If so, do we know what the reduction in livestock numbers might be and obviously the financial implications to the region?

  • Highly Erodible Land 1 (land with a slope of 25-35 degrees) comprises about 12.25% of the region or 155,548 hectares. About 33,581 hectares of HEL1 is in pasture (or about 2.5% of Northland).

    Highly Erodible Land 2 (land with a slope of more than 35 degrees) comprises about 7.2% of the region or 91,120 hectares. About 9,317 hectares is in pasture (or about 0.7% of Northland).

    There are already setback and exclusion requirements from rivers under the National Environmental Standard for Stock Exclusion. There are also stock exclusion rules in the Northland Regional Plan for rivers, lakes and wetlands. These do not apply to all livestock in all environments, and our consultation document The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion looks at 3m, 5m, and 10m setbacks as options for all livestock on all landforms on all intermittent and permanent rivers.

    High-level economic analysis is provided in the document The Draft Freshwater Plan Change: Have Your Say on Stock Exclusion as an appendix. This includes averages and high-level estimates identifying the capital costs associated with fencing, water reticulation, and riparian planting, as well as the opportunity costs associated with the loss of permanent grazing areas. It considers potential alternatives to grazing as well, but this is limited to carbon credit (ETS) farming. More economic analysis is needed and will be undertaken once we further develop the plan change following this draft consultation period.

Question 23: Is the slope map able to calculate the area of land that will need to be excluded on each title?

  • There is a scale within the GIS viewer (lower left), but there is no measuring tool on the viewer. The Highly Erodible Land layers shown provide the raw data taken from LiDAR measurements and do not relate to any specific rule requiring stock exclusion (these have not been written). We cannot calculate areas for individual properties in Northland, but we can estimate typical costs per kilometre of river and per hectare of Highly Erodible Land.

    As the plan change develops following feedback, these layers will be given more context regarding land use controls.

Question 1: Where does the land slope information come from and what scale is it to?

LiDAR – a technology that captures reflected light from an aerial device and gives information on topography with accuracy of <1m (similar to RADAR). The information takes vegetation into account as the light passes through trees as well, making it a robust source. We have slope classification of 25 degrees and 35 degrees.

Question 2: Why would farmers need a resource consent for land application of wastewater when they are already doing it within environmental values and management rules?

Permitted activity rules are generic. Shifting activities from permitted to discretionary gives council room for focussed decisions around different impacts in different land use areas. For example, a consent could outline special conditions around drinking water sources in the river or wai tapu areas. It is a shift toward better management of our region's freshwater resource.

Question 3: Who will pay for the stock exclusion fencing on Māori land? There is not enough money for major capital projects on most beef farms.

Yes, this is major challenge in the region. Regional council has multiple options, and there are no rules for these options yet. Time is a tool we will use to secure funding and work progressively across the rohe.

Question 4: Canterbury farmers using mussel shells to filter water through to ocean.

Interestingly, such innovation might just be the answers we are looking for. We are open to all and any help and suggestions we can get. Please visit on to wai-it-matters.nz and give us your feedback.

Question 5: What is the minimum in metres of land from swamps should be riparian planting or NZ native tree restoration?

The riparian setback from swamps/wetlands has not been defined in the regional plan change. However, your feedback is appreciated. For help with indigenous planting around waterways, please contact our Land Management team.

However, there are stock exclusion rules in the plan. For example, pigs and dairy cows have to be excluded from natural wetlands >500m2 (including swamps) from 1 Jan 2023. Beef cattle, dairy support cattle, and deer have to be excluded from 1 Jan 2025.

Question 6: What are some of the changes for reservoirs on your farm or hapū land?

Rules for reservoirs that retain water from a dam are the same for farm or hapū land. One of the draft changes in the plan we are seeking feedback on is that damming cannot occur in an inanga spawning site without consent. Consent is also now required if the reservoir holds >20,000 m3 of water or has a height of >4m. Consents will consider effects on tāngata whenua values.

We had plenty of great questions at the 22 November online hui, and we ran out of time to answer them all during the hui! If we didn’t have time to get to your question during the hui, please find the answer below.

Question 1: Our awa at home here in Ngunguru is very sacred to our whanau but sadly over the years of storms, property buy ups in the area it has now gone into disrepair, are we able to get some help by council re: management of the pest and weeds but also help to repair and restore some parts of the awa which this would involve machinery and contractors.

  • Council can support restoration of rivers and wetlands. Please contact our Land Management team to discuss your needs.
    See our contact details

Question 2: Do we have to have a registered trust going for our whenua to be able to access any funding for help for our wetlands and awa?

  • No – it’s open to landowners and you don't need to be a trust or similar legal entity.

Question 3: What are the riperian planting distant up to 10 metres using oyster and mussel shell filtering system.

  • This is probably outside the scope of the Freshwater Plan Change, but we’d like to talk to you to understand better what you have in mind. Please give our Policy team a call on 0800 002 004 or email [email protected] if you’d like to discuss your idea with one of our policy specialists.

Question 4: How do you propose to boost other areas of the economy to compensate for reduction in grazing and land being retired?

  • Stock exclusion rules don't necessarily mean land can't be used - alternative uses are available - also resource consent process may enable ongoing stock access if can be shown adverse effects are minor given circumstances (e.g. very low stock intensity, access limited to low frequency, or stock type unlikely to cause issues).

Question 5: Just wondering why you have swapped the colour of HEL tonight ... on your website 25-35 is red ... tonight it was yellow. Just going to create confusion.

  • On the draft Highly Erodible Land maps, HEL 1 (land with a 25-35 degree slope) is shown in yellow and HEL2 (land with slope of over 35 degrees) is shown in red.
    View the draft Highly Erodible Land maps

Question 6: With respect to riparian setbacks - if a waterway is already fenced are we going to be expected to shift this to the new setback requirements?

  • The rules are yet to be confirmed, but providing exemptions from wider setbacks for existing fencing is an option council can look at in the rules, recognising that the landowner has done the right thing by fencing out stock and acknowledging the cost of relocating fences. For example, we could provide for existing fences to remain where they are until replaced.

Question 7: Can you please clarify what the proposed changes would mean for on-site household wastewater (septic, vermiculture, aerated systems) that discharge to a land application system or disposal field? For example, if I'm building a new rural house, will it be any different to the current rules?

  • Council has not identified any changes to the rules for the discharge of household wastewater discharges to land in the draft plan change, so at this stage it remains a permitted activity if standards and terms of the permitted activity rules are met.

    However, under the draft rule changes, the discharge of treated or untreated household wastewater into water would become a prohibited activity.

Question 8: How many farmers think about stacking extra income functions into their riparian plantings? Farmers often tend to think about dollars as the bottom line and make decisions based on money they can make per area of land. They often have a strong focus on the economy of money as the bottom line, rather than the economy of nature, or the economy of future generations. Adding additional monetary income functions to a riparian planting buffer can promote farmers deciding to make them wider. Examples: adding a wide manuka planting on the sunny edges can stack a honey production function; adding native and appropriate exotic stock forage species to the edges can help soak up more runoff and nutrient while cycling nutrient back to the stock; incorporating fruit-bearing trees or bushes adds extra income while supporting biodiversity. Linking riparian plantings to existing bush remnants can provide wildlife corridors. These and other diverse income functions encourage a holistic and sustainable approach.

  • Thank you for this feedback. We will consider preparing a guidance document for productive riparian buffers and highly erodible land to release next year.

Question 9: Leon mentioned the map showing highly erodible land is very pixellated and no expectation to fence every bit. Is there going to be an averaging effect bought in making the stock exclusion area larger? Or are these going to be areas than can be grazed with a consent if you can show erosion mitigating tools are in place?

  • These are very high resolution maps and we recognise it would be impractical to require stock be excluded from small isolated areas of highly erodible land (HEL). Options to refine the approach include removing very small areas and providing flexibility to landowners in the rules (e.g. only requiring stock be excluded from a set percentage of the total area of HEL on a property).

Question 10: RNZ's 2019 report states "The four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies." Given the recent 'slash' problems, how are we applying 'accountability' for the detriment of our waterways and who is paying to clear it out of our waterways when it occurs? Are the foreign owners fined or expected to pay for the massive cleanup?

  • Yes! We need more critical thinking - Resource Management Act's National Environment Standards for Commercial Forestry 2023 is the major regulation document for forestry. It now has rules on slash management, and requires a harvest management plan with stricter slash guidelines. In addition, NRC's Draft Freshwater Plan Change has defined permitted vegetation clearance conditions that apply to slash management in forestry on highly erodible land and riparian zones.

Question 11: Also on household wastewater - will the treatment level required increase? And/or will specific denitrification requirements be brought in, like they have been sensitive areas in the Lakes areas elsewhere in Aotearoa?

  • Council has not identified any changes to household effluent discharges to land in the draft plan change (currently permitted activity if conditions are met).

    Under the Draft Freshwater Plan Change: C.6. Discharges to land and water - C.6.1 and C.6.7 - Discharge of treated or untreated domestic type wastewater into water is a prohibited activity. On-site domestic wastewater discharges to land is a permitted activity with conditions. There are conditions of setbacks and treatment levels in place for the permitted discharge to land near water bodies.

    Feedback is encouraged on these conditions and rule changes.

Question 12: Increasing water infiltration in the farm land can reduce runoff into waterways - 1% increase in soil carbon can infiltrate an extra 230,000 litres of water per hectare.

Regenerative farming can increase soil carbon, using dung beetles can help with carbon soil increase as well as reducing dung pollution.

Reduced fertiliser application, managed grazing processes where stock graze in a concentrated area that is then allowed to fully recover will increase soil carbon.

Vertical river banks increase silt content of rivers - better shaped river banks and active grazing allowing recovery will decrease silt pollution.

Holistic Planned management does all of this.

I have two rivers through my farm, Tirohanga and Kawakawa, these flood my land during high rain events, so fencing waterways becomes unproductive due to flood damage.

Come see what we can do with this farming process.

  • Thank you for this feedback.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the draft Freshwater Plan Change

Why is Northland Regional Council preparing the draft Freshwater Plan?

In 2020 the government introduced ‘Essential Freshwater’ – a package of policies and rules to protect and improve our rivers, streams, lakes, groundwater and wetlands. It includes:

  • New rules for landowners
  • Directing council to prepare a plan for improving the state of freshwater in the region – the Freshwater Plan.

At the heart of the Essential Freshwater vision is the concept of Te Mana o te Wai. It recognises the health and well-being of waterbodies and freshwater ecosystems must now take priority over all other concerns. More detailed information is available at: environment.govt.nz

The Freshwater Plan is required to meet council’s obligations under this new legislation.

What does the draft Freshwater Plan cover?

The draft Freshwater Plan will include:

  • A new vision for our freshwater
  • The outcomes we want for freshwater
  • New limits and rules for activities that impact freshwater
  • Actions the regional council will take to help meet the outcomes we want for freshwater.

It details the way Northland Regional Council is responding to the Government's direction to improve the health of our freshwater.

How did council prepare the draft Freshwater Plan?

For more than two years we have been getting feedback and advice from tāngata whenua, government, industry, environmental groups, and our communities on what the draft Freshwater Plan Change should cover.

Two groups in particular guided its development:

  • Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group (TWWAG). This group of tāngata whenua technical experts from Te Taitokerau has a wide range of freshwater kaitiaki expertise and experience. They have provided detailed advice and recommendations for what should be included in the draft Freshwater Plan and what actions council should take to work with haukainga and community level to identify catchment specific provisions.

Read the TWWAG reports

  • Primary Sector Liaison Group (PSLG). Made up of representatives from primary sector industry organisations, this group provided a report outlining the issues facing the primary sector. The group developed a vision for the draft Freshwater Plan Change to help ensure:
    • the importance of the primary sector to Northland’s economy is recognised
    • the industry can thrive, and
    • appropriate land use is provided for.

They also provided advice on objectives and measures to improve freshwater.

Read the PSLG report

We acknowledge all those who have contributed to this draft plan, and we have listened carefully to all the views and recommendations put forward.

Now, we need to give everyone in Te Taitokerau an opportunity to help us refine the plan.

What is the difference between the draft Freshwater Plan Change and the ‘Three Waters’ reforms?

The draft Freshwater Plan Change is different to the Three Waters reforms. Three Waters is about our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure and services. The draft Freshwater Plan Change is about managing the health of our rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands. The Three Waters reform does not impact on the draft Freshwater Plan.

More information on Three Waters reforms is available from: www.dia.govt.nz/Water-Services-Reform-Programme

Is fluoride covered in the plan?

No. The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand control the maximum levels of fluoride in drinking water (i.e. 1.5mg/litre). This is overseen by Taumata Arowai (the water services regulator). Fluoride in drinking water is not regulated or controlled by the regional council.

You can find out more about the role of Taumata Arowai at www.taumataarowai.govt.nz

Why is NRC continuing with the Freshwater Plan Change when the government has signalled a change in policy?

The government changed following the October 2023 general election. The new government has set out its intention to replace national freshwater policy, but we don’t yet know what that might look like. What we do know is that we have major challenges with our freshwater quality, we need a plan for improving the health of our wai, and we need input from across the rohe to help shape the future management of water in Te Taitokerau.

Who can provide feedback?

We are happy to receive feedback from anyone with an interest in freshwater management for Te Taitokerau.

Where can I view the documents?

You can download consultation documents, background and technical papers, and reports from expert groups about the draft Freshwater Plan Change on the draft Freshwater Plan Change Publications page of our website.

Will my feedback be made public?

Potentially. This round of public consultation is informal and will be used to help us shape the final version of the plan change. Council is not required to publish a summary of feedback we receive. However, all input has the potential to be made available to the public. All the feedback received will be assessed and summarised for councillors.

What happens next?

We’re seeking feedback on the draft Freshwater Plan Change until 31 March 2024. After that, we’ll go through the feedback and consider changes we might need to make.

The next version of the plan will be the proposed Freshwater Plan Change. The proposed plan will reflect public feedback on the draft plan. You’ll be able to make a formal submission on the proposed plan and present your views to an independent Freshwater Hearing Panel.

If the Government has directed regional councils to improve freshwater quality, why aren’t all the other councils consulting on new freshwater rules?

Under the government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, all regional councils and unitary authorities in Aotearoa New Zealand are required to have amended freshwater policy statements and plans. Under the previous government, the amended policy statements and plans had to be notified by the end of 2024. The current government has extended the deadline to 2027.

Councils are at different stages as they work through the process of meeting the government’s deadlines. Some, such as Otago Regional Council, Greater Wellington, Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Northland Regional Council, are already consulting their communities on a draft plan. Others have not yet reached that stage.

Why are the draft rules and limits being considered in Northland different to those other regional councils are proposing?

All regional councils throughout Aotearoa New Zealand are required to meet national ‘bottom lines’ for freshwater health under the government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Each council has to come up with rules and actions that reflect the specific issues in each region. For Te Taitokerau Northland we have particular challenges with sedimentation and E. coli contamination, so our proposed rules and actions target these issues.

How do I know if my activity will impact tāngata whenua values?

There are numerous documents that set out specific tāngata whenua values that you should look at to see if your activity might have an impact, including Iwi or Hapū Environmental Management Plans. You can find a list of these at: nrc.govt.nz/plansihemp

Resource consent applicants will need to reference existing information and consult with tāngata whenua early in the process before lodging any application to ensure that any proposed activity considers potential impacts on tāngata whenua values.

Is there any guidance or protections around costs of obtaining a cultural impact assessment?

The change to the draft rules would require an assessment of the impact on tāngata whenua values and practices as part of the consent process for freshwater related activities. This means consulting with tāngata whenua. However, you may not require a full ‘cultural impact assessment’. The main thing sought is that applicants talk to local tāngata whenua about their activity and can demonstrate this has happened.

A cultural impact assessment is not a veto on issue of a consent – it is an assessment to inform the decision.

If a cultural impact assessment is required, the cost will vary depending on the scale and complexity of the activity. Council can’t control the costs associated with the activities of third parties (i.e. costs to undertake a cultural impact assessment) but has looked at options in the draft Action Plan to reduce financial impacts – e.g. subsidising resource consenting costs. We’d be interested in feedback on whether a similar approach could be applied to cultural impact assessments.

Why do landowners need to consult with tāngata whenua?

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management provides for participation by tāngata whenua in decision-making on freshwater. Tāngata whenua have expressed dissatisfaction with decision-making to date (including consent decisions). Understanding effects of activity (including impacts on cultural values and understanding views of potentially affected parties) is already part of the consent process, but changes in the draft Freshwater Plan Change would make this explicit.

How will the proposed Water Allocation Policy affect me?

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 within limits after existing consented and permitted water takes). The reserved water would be available for environmental enhancement, marae, papakāinga, and Māori land development. It would also be available for other uses, with a contribution to a fund that offsets ecological impact from the other use.

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 is unlikely to affect you either.

Learn more: Targeted Water Allocation Policy

What will happen during droughts?

Northland is highly susceptible to droughts, with seven droughts recorded in the past 15 years. Climate change is likely to see more severe droughts in Northland.

Council can already restrict water takes that are permitted or are allowed by resource consent using water shortage directions. The draft Freshwater Plan Change does not affect council’s ability to restrict water takes during droughts.

How was the 20% reserve amount justified?

The 20% allocation is consistent with commercial fishing interests and the aquaculture industry, and it mirrors a similar policy in the Hawkes Bay Regional Plan – see p.30 of Policy 57 (POL TANK 57).

Will the reserve money paid into the Whānau Whenua fund be used for things other than freshwater quality improvement?

We need more public feedback before we decide whether to progress this policy and determine the details of how it would work. If we go ahead with it after considering public feedback, we would include policies in the Regional Plan that would set out:

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

While the details of how the fund would be used have not yet been determined, the Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group, which proposed the policy, also intended the funding to support Māori wellbeing. A similar policy in the Hawkes Bay Regional Plan includes reference to Māori economic and cultural wellbeing.

Are existing resource consents affected by the draft Freshwater Plan Change?

No. A draft has no legal effect and you can still undertake activities in accordance with existing resource consents.

My activity is no longer permitted – what do I do now?

If your activity status might change from being permitted, you may be required to apply for a resource consent in the future. This will apply once the Freshwater Plan Change rules are formally notified in 2027. Once the rules will take effect, the policies will be considered along with those in the existing Regional Plan for Northland. They will not be fully operative until any appeals on the proposed plan are resolved.

If farmers are required to have consents to farm, will there be duplications/bureaucracy/additional paperwork generated, given that farmers will all also be required to have Freshwater Farm Plans and accreditations and audits?

Council isn’t proposing requiring a consent to farm as such. Consents may be required for stock access to river margins and highly erodible land, but we have not made any decisions on this.

Work to prepare Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFP) could be used to help inform resource consent applications – for example, the risk assessment and mitigation could be used in consent processes.

How many consents does council expect will need to be processed for farming on highly erodible land, irrigating to land, etc?

This hasn’t been calculated as we are still in the draft stage and the rules for highly erodible land have not been confirmed. It would also depend on the decisions made by landowners (i.e. whether they wanted to seek consent to continue grazing or shift to another land use).

Council monitored 720 dairy discharges in 2022/23. Of these 25% were for discharge to land only, 55% were for discharge to land and water, and 18% were for discharge to water only.

Plans for processing the consents required under any new rules would likely be covered in council’s Long Term Plan following council decisions on the Proposed Plan Change.

When will there be more clarity as to the types of consents and or criteria within them?

The Proposed Freshwater Plan Change will provide more detail and rationale for the changes in the s32 report – this will be informed by feedback on the draft.

How restrictive are the consents going to be?

This is difficult to predict until the rules and policy are confirmed. Also, future restrictions are likely to vary with location and sensitivity of the values for freshwater.

 

Can I still farm on hills?

Yes. The draft changes we are consulting on would still allow you to farm on hill country, but in some places with highly erodible land you might need a resource consent to farm livestock in the future. Studies show that pastoral farming on steep slopes can result in higher rates of sediment loss to our waterways and harbours. We are considering controls on stock access to steep slopes to address the specific issues we have in Northland with sedimentation.

Learn more: Setbacks and Stock Exclusion

Do the total areas above the 25-degree slope/18.8% of land in Northland either highly or severely erodible land include land already in trees and land either owned or managed by Department of Conservation (DoC)?

The total area in the 25-35 slope layer is about 12.25% of the region and the land >35 degrees is about 7.2% (so around 19.45%). Yes, these layers include land in woody vegetation – for example:

  • Slopes between 25 – 35 degrees include:
    • 12.25% of land in Northland (155,548 ha of 1,269,780 ha), of which:
      •  21.59% of this is in pasture (33,581 ha); and
      •  78.41% of this is in woody vegetation (121,967 ha);
  • Slopes above 35 degrees include:
    • 7.20% of land in Northland (91,120 ha of 1,269,780 ha), of which:
      • 10.22% of this is in pasture (9,317 ha); and
      •  89.78% of this is in woody vegetation (81,803 ha)

Land ownership/tenure has not been differentiated in these calculations, so the areas and percentages will include land owned by DoC.

The total areas used for estimating the cost of excluding stock from highly erodible land (HEL) only considered land area within the two HEL definitions that is in pasture.

Why has NRC chosen to use a rule for stock exclusion for land above a 25-degree slope when the Land Use Capability (LUC) system states that some land above a 25-degree slope is suitable for pastoral farming?

No rules have been confirmed regarding stock exclusion for the highly erodible land layers.

The LUC system includes some areas we think are low risk in terms of impacts on freshwater quality (e.g. Pouto / Aupouri sand country) and misses others we think are likely high risk due to steepness.

The draft plan change is an opportunity to test a new approach to mapping erosion risk. Slope is a key driver of erosion risk in Northland and the LiDAR data means the layers are accurate at a farm scale. We are keen to test this as a concept.

Has NRC calculated how much land above the 25-degree slope threshold is in dairy and how much is in sheep and beef?

No, not at this stage – we wanted to test the concept first, but we will need to do a Section 32 RMA cost/benefit analysis as part of the Proposed Plan Change.

Has NRC calculated how many sheep and beef farms have more than 50% of their land above the 25-degree slope threshold?

No, not at this stage – we wanted to test the concept first, but we will need to do a Section 32 RMA cost/benefit analysis as part of the Proposed Plan Change.

Was it NRC’s intent to encourage farmers to plant pines trees/take up carbon farming?

The intent behind managing grazing on highly erodible land is to reduce the risk of slips. Woody vegetation on such slopes is beneficial to achieving this, and there are a range of potential productive activities (including but not limited to pine trees and carbon farming).

What does the council envisage will happen to land retired due to slope?

If these rules were progressed, this would be a decision for the landowner after considering options and costs. For example, landowners could seek a consent to continue grazing; shift to another productive land use such as timber, honey or carbon farming; or retire the land.

Please note: the scenarios set out in the discussion stock exclusion document do not propose a ‘ban’ on livestock access or mandatory retirement of these areas.

If farmers retire land, will that be reflected on the rates?

That is a possibility.  We're keen to hear this sort of feedback, but we haven’t confirmed what the rules will be at this stage – we’re just looking for feedback on options.
The options set out wouldn’t require land be retired. A consent could still be sought to graze the area, provided measures are in place to manage effects. The land could also be used for other forms of production (e.g. selective logging, carbon or honey).

Can I still farm next to streams?

Yes. The draft changes we are consulting on would still allow you to farm next to streams, provided you meet government regulations and regional rules already in place.

The draft Freshwater Plan does not change the national stock exclusion regulations, but council can develop stricter regional rules.

We are considering increasing setbacks from waterways and controls on stock access to highly erodible land to address the specific issues we have in Northland with sedimentation and E.coli.

Learn more: Setbacks and Stock Exclusion

Will farmers that have fenced off their waterways up to 1 and or 3 metres be required to shift the fences if NRC decide on a 5 or 10 metre setback?

Probably not – we are likely to adopt a similar approach to that used in the Stock Exclusion Regulations, whereby existing fences can remain until replaced (but it depends on the rules we decide on).

With the increase in setbacks plus the retired slope land, is NRC concerned about the increased weed burden?

Yes, we acknowledge this is an issue and is one of the reasons we have not confirmed these rules and want to test options and get feedback first. In the draft Action Plan we have looked at some options to mitigate costs for landowners (e.g. reduced rural rates) but may need to look at increasing funding and support for pest plant control – we’d appreciate any thoughts on this through feedback.

Are you testing the DNA of E. coli to know what level of bird contamination is occurring? As well as human excrement. We need to know what percentage is coming from bovine animals.

We have a recent report on microbial water quality in Northland that looks at the sources of E. coli and refers to faecal source tracking done to date. The report found that “ruminant sources appear to be the dominant source of faecal contamination in any of the rivers investigated in Northland and is associated with diffuse pollution signals” (p.32).

Read the report - A review of river microbial water quality data in the Northland region (PDF 12.92 MB)

Why are the majority of implementation costs deemed to be an expense for the agricultural sector within this draft plan?

The state of our freshwater quality is significantly impact by agricultural and forestry land uses, particularly in relation to sediment and from livestock farming (E. coli). Freshwater health has also been impacted by the loss of vegetation on riparian margins. The key ways of mitigating these sources of pollution require changes in land use practices that will impact those landowners engaged in those practices. The draft Freshwater Plan Change also includes new rules for forestry activity, prohibiting new wastewater treatment plant and domestic wastewater discharges to water, and new requirements for stormwater network discharges.

Council is also looking for feedback on in the draft Action Plan, which includes options that reduce the costs for the agricultural sector through, for example, rates relief on rural land, subsidies for resource consents and funding to support fencing, riparian planting, etc. These costs would be underwritten by all Northland ratepayers through the regional rates.

Why would farmers support the draft plan?

Our waterways are in a poor state, and it is going to take time and money to improve them to meet the national bottom lines. Council funding to support change is a challenge, with options being: landowners, ratepayers, or somewhere else (e.g. central government, philanthropic institutions). Northland is fortunate to have had the Kaipara Moana Remediation project that has provided central government support. We cannot fund the same programme across the rest of the region, but we can lobby for government support.

One of the recommendations proposed by the Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group was to establish a fund which could support freshwater remediation projects and initiatives, with contributions to that fund coming from water users (see Targeted Water Allocation Policy discussion document). This provides another potential avenue for raising financing to support landowners undertake the work needed to improve our freshwater health to meet national bottom lines.

There is no guarantee that council will include rates relief or support to landowners, as this has to go through the Long Term Plan (LTP) process. However, council is making decisions on what goes into the proposed Freshwater Plan Change as a package with the draft Action Plan. Providing feedback through the LTP process will help ensure that financial and other support is available from council to landowners.

What and where have the figures for ‘average farm size’ calculations and references come from?

We used average prices to calculate a total Northland cost for the options. These have come from a variety of sources which are noted in the costing report attached to the consultation document. Where possible, a distinction is made to reflect the different prices for lowland and upland areas (topography). For example, fencing and riparian planting prices are higher in upland areas but the opportunity cost in terms of loss of farm profit is lower. A distinction was also made where costs vary by farm type, especially for the cost of land lost from production. Acknowledging that these can vary from farm-to-farm, the costing use a plus/minus 20% to estimate an upper and lower range within which the cost is likely to fall.

An average farm estimate for dairy and sheep and beef farms ($ per farm) was then calculated by dividing the total cost for each farm type by the total number of dairy and sheep and beef farms in Northland. As noted in the costing report this is 720 dairy farms and 1,455 sheep and beef farms. The number of dairy farms is based on the number of farms monitored by Northland Regional Council as part of its dairy effluent monitoring programme. The number of sheep and beef farms is based on the number of sheep and beef farms in Northland over 20 hectares as detailed in the Statistics NZ agricultural production census 2022.

How does NRC justify use of averages when there are such major differences between sizes in dairy, and sheep and beef farm sizes and topography?

We don’t have the resource to undertake cost estimates for all the different circumstances on farms in the region – this is also a draft and no rule changes have been confirmed at this point. The cost estimates provide an indication only to help people provide informed feedback. However, as noted in the answer to the question above, we have attempted to recognise the difference costs that occur between farm types and topography.

How does NRC justify the 30-year time frames used to spread expenses/costs, when NRC states that most of the costs will be borne in the first five years?

A 30-year time frame was used to estimate the value of the on-going costs such as maintenance and opportunity costs. A 30-year time frame is typical for forecasting costs. These on-going costs can be considerable for some of the options being consulted on. Consider for example the opportunity cost proportion of the 30m setback option in Figure 1.

How were/where did the fencing and planting costs worked out – KMR?

Yes, figures from KMR Schedule of Prices October 2023 informed the costings. We also sought advice from fencing contractors.

Why have per hectare costs not been used throughout the draft – much more meaningful for farmers?

Per hectare costs have been used where relevant, such as for calculating the cost of exclusion from highly erodible land or wetlands. However, in the case of stock exclusion from waterways, it is more appropriate to consider costs in terms of stream length. Converting stream length to a per hectare value would require further assumptions.

Have there been allowances for inflation, given the 30-year timeframes suggested?

Following NZ Treasury guidance, the costs are valued in real terms (constant prices) as opposed to nominal terms.

Why have initial costs of fencing and planting not been separated from ongoing maintenance costs?

Separate cost estimates for initial and ongoing maintenance costs are made. These were not included in the report for the sake of brevity. These are available on request to [email protected]

Has NRC done cost calculations for fencing off wetlands using only the farms that have wetlands on them or all farms?

The cost calculations are not done on a per farm basis. They are based on an estimate of the total area of wetlands in upland sheep and beef farms in Northland.

Has council undertaken a study on what these changes may mean financially to the local and community economy?

There is some high-level economic analysis on the stock exclusion and riparian setback discussion document, but it is very high level. Without any landed rules, we can't accurately analyse this. 

You [council] want to increase our set-backs and therefore reduce our income. How are we [farmers] supposed to pay for more plantings if you are reducing our income?

We are looking at options and examples from other regions to better understand how we can help shoulder the financial burdens. The Waikato is a good region to look to - there have been many trusts and ecological nurseries started up to assist in planting up the Waikato and Waipa River catchments. Similar models could work well in Northland – this just needs to be geared up over time.

Can we please have some updated data? The data used are from 2015 to 2019.

We have used 2015-2019 data to establish the baseline state of most freshwater attributes we are required to use under the NPS-FM – we had to have this when we started developing the draft Freshwater Plan Change and needed five years’ data to have statistical confidence in the results. There is more recent data available here in our Environmental Data Hub.

Does the requirement that there is no discharge of effluent directly to groundwater mean that ponds will have to be lined?

We can’t confirm at this stage. The intent is to phase out direct discharges to water. A decision has not been made as to whether a complete prohibition on ‘incidental’ type discharges is realistic in Northland given weather and soils, etc. The rules in the draft Plan Change have not been changed to require that ponds be lined.

Does the nil discharge water apply to all entities (towns, other industries, councils etc)?

Yes. The draft Plan Change includes rules prohibiting all domestic wastewater discharges to water and prohibits new discharges to water from wastewater treatment plants.

Is there a genuine need for consents? Discharge of dairy effluent to land is currently a permitted activity and the system seems to work well.

We think so – the standards and terms of the permitted activity apply generically across Northland regardless of the location of the farm, the effluent system used or the sensitivity of adjacent uses/values for freshwater that may be affected (e.g. a swimming or mahinga kai site). Moving to a controlled activity consent enables us to include bespoke consent conditions to manage potential effects on local uses and values.

Also note: Compliance rates for consented dairy effluent discharges to land are higher than for permitted activity.

How high is the bar going to be set for future land use change to dairy?

This depends on the rules confirmed by council decisions and any subsequent appeals, but it’s likely to be a higher ‘bar’ under the current National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, as council must be confident that decisions (including new conversions/expansions) will not result in a decline in water quality.

Why have Freshwater Management Units (FMU) not been included as a tool?

The issues for Northland’s waterbodies are similar across all catchments, FMUs, and coasts, regardless of weather patterns. The ‘regulatory’ solutions are also largely the same.

In addition, the original government deadline to notify a Proposed Plan Change by 31 Dec 2024 meant a bespoke plan for each FMU was not practical. Crafting nuanced rules and standards for specific catchments and FMUs would take more time and resources than are currently available to NRC.

However, the current approach does not preclude future work in specifying standards and/or environmental limits, particularly FMUs. The Tāngata Whenua Water Advisory Group has recommended that council do a ‘deeper dive’ at community level with hau kainga and communities to develop more detailed and localised visions, values, objectives, policies, methods, etc. We have included this in the Action Plan (proposed action 10) as it will require financial resources.

We’d appreciate feedback on the need for variation in rules across the region and how these could be justified.

What is the definition of an intermittently flowing waterway?

“Intermittently flowing river or stream” is a river or stream that is naturally dry at certain times of the year and has two or more of the following characteristics:

  1. it has natural pools, and
  2. it has a well-defined channel, such that the bed and banks can be distinguished, and
  3. it contains surface water more than 48 hours after a rain event which results in riverflow, and
  4. rooted terrestrial vegetation is not established across the entire cross-sectional width of the channel, and
  5. it appears as a blue line on topographical maps at 1:50,000 scale.

Will there be an accountability on council?

Northland Regional Council is ultimately accountable for meeting the NPS:FM targets, but if you’re referring to discharges from district councils (Whangarei, Kaipara, Far North) – then yes, they are also subject to a range of new and more restrictive regulations to up their game.

Were there any ground proofing type visits by councillors re the slopes and impact?

A site visit with some Councillors and staff was undertaken in November.

Much of the empirical data and subsequent policy drafting is based off KMR field work, comparisons on landforms pre- and post- cyclone Gabrielle, and feedback from NRC land management staff.

What were the other alternatives/options/tools considered by NRC to obtain the required freshwater outcomes?

We considered the ‘business as usual’ option – i.e. no changes to the Regional Plan methods including rules. However, this was not considered feasible as it would not achieve the improvement required to meet national bottom lines in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 or to make Northland’s water safe for us to swim in or eat plants/food from.

Relying on Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFP) to minimise the impacts on freshwater in Northland has been discussed, but how effective and consistent these will be in addressing issues is unclear given the FWFP regime is very new and we need to have certainty that targets for freshwater improvement will be met.