Learn about other mahi affecting freshwater

Whai mōhiotanga mō mahi kē e whai pānga ana ki te wai māori

Freshwater is so important that there are many other regional and national policies, plans, and public consultations that affect it.

Here is a summary of some of the key ones affecting Northland.

Water services reform refers to the infrastructure and services that deliver our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

Water services are the pipes, facilities, services and processes used to treat, transport and discharge:

  • Drinking water – water that flows from our taps, from water sources and council supply networks.
  • Wastewater – water that has been used for cooking, bathing, washing or flushing our toilets.
  • Stormwater – rainwater that is collected in pipes, drains, green infrastructure or overland flow paths to manage flooding and pollution of streams, rivers and coastal waters.

The previous Government proposed changes in the Water Services Reform Programme to shift the responsibility for water services from local councils to 10 new services entities.

However, following the national election in October 2023, the new Government announced a new direction for addressing water infrastructure challenges called ‘Local Water Done Well’. Local Water Done Well restores ownership and control of water assets to local councils.

You may have heard of this programme of work referred to as ‘three waters reforms’.

The Resource Management (Freshwater Farm Plans) Regulations came into effect in June 2023 as part of a suite of regulatory tools designed to change behaviour and practice in the use and management of land.

The regulations require farm operators to actively manage the impacts of operations on water quality. Operators will need to make and implements plans to do this.

The new regulations set out requirements for freshwater farm plans and timeframes for when these plans are required.

Freshwater farm plans will need to include:

  • farm maps identifying features such as waterways, critical source (discharge of contaminant) areas, and other risks to freshwater and freshwater ecosystems
  • a risk assessment across farming and growing activities such as irrigation, application of nutrients and effluent, winter grazing, stock-holding areas, stock exclusion, offal pits, and farm rubbish pits
  • a schedule of actions to manage identified features and address identified risks.

Freshwater farm plans will need to be:

  • certified by a freshwater farm plan certifier appointed by the relevant regional council
  • audited by a freshwater farm plan auditor
  • enforced by regional councils.

Freshwater farm plans will be required on farms with 20 or more hectares in arable or pastoral land use, or five or more hectares in horticultural land use, or 20 hectares of mixed use.

Freshwater farm plans are already in required in parts of Waikato and Southland, and they must be rolled out in all regions by the end of 2025.

The new FWFP Regulations (June 2023) are being implemented gradually across New Zealand. Northland is not in the first tranche of rollout, so the regulations don’t yet apply to Northland farms.

We will keep farm operators informed about the rollout schedule for Northland well before it happens.

Find out more about the Freshwater Farm Plans Regulations