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Freshwater management: changes to the regional plan and policy statement

New government requirements for managing freshwater will mean changes for freshwater rules and policy in Northland.

New national policy statement

As part of its Essential Freshwater package to improve the health of our waterways, the government has introduced the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.

It sets out how regional councils are to manage freshwater, with a particular focus on improving water quality and ecosystem health, plus the process and timeframes for making the changes to our regional plan and regional policy statement which is different to other RMA plan changes.

For Northland, the main changes will be around:

  • Giving effect to Te Mana o te Wai, an integrated and holistic approach that puts the health and mauri of freshwater ecosystems first (see below for more detail).
  • Creating a vision for freshwater, identifying values, setting environmental objectives and targets, and identifying what improvements are needed to maintain or improve the health and wellbeing of Northland’s freshwater bodies and ecosystems.
  • Considering climate change as part of the integrated approach to freshwater management.
  • Recognising that there are different ways of viewing the world and that we need to enable use of a diversity of values and knowledge systems.

Find out more about the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020

Working through the plan change process

Over the next couple of years we’ll be working closely with tangata whenua and our communities to develop a plan change for Northland that gives effect to Te Mana o te Wai.

One of the first actions we’ve taken is to set up two advisory groups: a Tangata Whenua Water Advisory Group and Primary Sector Liaison Group. These groups will assist council by providing advice on how to apply Te Mana o te Wai in Northland and develop environmental objectives and targets. Another action is to identify freshwater management units for water quality – these provide the geographical framework for managing, monitoring and accounting for water quality under the NPS-FM.

Ultimately, these changes will be included in our Regional Plan for Northland (essentially the rulebook for looking after natural resources in Northland) and the Regional Policy Statement for Northland.

In accordance with s 55(2A) of the Resource Management Act 1991, the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland (PRP) has been amended to:

  • insert clause 3.22(1) natural inland wetlands;
  • insert clause 3.24(1) rivers; and
  • insert clause 3.26(1) fish passage

of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020, resulting in new policies D.4.23 and D.4.30 and new objective F.1.4.

We’ll keep this page updated as we work through the plan change process, to keep you informed about opportunities to get involved.

About Te Mana o te Wai

Central government has recognised the national significance of freshwater and Te Mana o te Wai through the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

It is an ideological change in approach to freshwater management as we recognise and provide for Te Mana o te Wai, by putting the health and mauri of water first.

Actively involving tangata whenua in freshwater management including decision-making processes to the extent that they wish to be involved is fundamental to Te Mana o te Wai.

To meet the new obligations, we will work with tangata whenua and communities to discuss what values they hold for the freshwater bodies, to set freshwater objectives and limits.

Find out more about Te Mana o te Wai on Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Find out more

The Ministry for the Environment has a range of information available on its website: