Changing regional policies and rules to manage freshwater better

In September 2020 the Government released a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. This directs how regional councils must manage freshwater and activities that affect freshwater. This was amended again in December 2022.  All councils, including Bay of Plenty Regional Council, must now give effect to this.

Over the last six months, we’ve spoken to hundreds of people across the region about potential changes to how land and freshwater are managed in regional rules.  Community feedback closed on 30 September. Feedback received will help shape the draft options presented to your elected regional councillors for consideration. By the end of 2024, we will notify formal proposed changes to plans and rules. Everyone will be able to make submissions and be heard by a freshwater hearings panel.

Me mahi tahi tātou mō te oranga tonutanga o te wai māori.
Let's work together for the future of freshwater.

Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) are catchments, or groups of catchments, that make sense for freshwater management purposes. We have identified thirteen draft freshwater management units (FMUs). Find your FMU on the map below then read more about what the key issues are for the region and for your Freshwater Management Unit, and the draft options we are thinking about to manage them in the booklet.

You can also learn about the health of freshwater in your area through our online Water Quality Reporting Tool or by viewing a summary of the data on our State of the Environment page.

fmu map

Please note: We’ve been incorporating new information into our assessments of water available for allocation as we’ve been working through the engagement process. As a result, there have been a small number of changes to our maps of allocation status (for streams) compared to those in the Freshwater Management Units Information Booklets (available below). We’ve also worked through the available science for groundwater allocation and revised our thinking about groundwater availability. More information on this will be available shortly.

Water plays a central role in Te Ao Māori (Māori world view) as the essence of life. Regional councils have a duty to involve Māori in freshwater management, to the extent they wish to be involved. This is a long-term journey of developing relationships, capacity and capability.  

In 2020, Council approved Te Hononga, which sets out  a path to involving tangata whenua in this journey. We’ve met with many iwi and hapū about this in 2021 and some tangata whenua led projects are taking shape. Invitations have been sent to tangata whenua organisations about how to get involved in how our freshwater should be managed in the future and this remains as an open invitation. Sub-regional hui a rohe are being planned for April 2023.

Council staff are considering values and interests already expressed.

We will continue to invite tangata whenua involvement. We invite tangata whenua to express how the Te Mana o te Wai, Te Ao Māori principles, mahinga kai values, and Māori freshwater values might be best given effect to and provided for in our regional policies and plans.

Community and stakeholder engagement

In late 2021 we asked the community what freshwater areas are important to them and whether they were happy with its current state.  We also ran online public engagement in 2022 about long term vision and outcomes for freshwater. 

We’ve been discussing issues and draft options with tangata whenua and advisory panels.

During January to March, we went along to community events where we discussed what we’re doing and how people can get involved.

From April – September 2023 we are holding engagement events across the region, this will include sub-regional hui-ā-rohe (for tangata whenua). In-person events in each of the 13 “Freshwater Management Units” (FMUs), and online webinars for some areas.

In 2025, anybody will be able to make formal submissions on the proposed plan changes and can be heard in front of an independent freshwater hearings panel.

Freshwater Futures Community groups

In 2015, we set up three community groups in the Rangitāiki, Kaituna/Maketū and Pongakawa/Waitahanui catchments to provide input and advice as we worked on implementing the earlier versions of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (2014 and 2017). They helped us to identify local community values and desired outcomes for freshwater. They were starting to look at issues and solutions in their catchments. While the work programme has changed, the input they provided is still useful. We are meeting with them again in April 2023. There are also several other community groups in the region with an interest in freshwater who we will be in touch with.

Regional and Environmental Sector Organisation Forum

This Forum has representatives of primary sector and environmental organisations. It provides early feedback and advice as we develop policy options for freshwater management. They will also assist us to engage with their membership when the time comes.

Territorial Local Authorities (TLA) Freshwater Collaboration Group

This group includes staff from each of the district and city councils in Bay of Plenty region as well as regional council. We share information and promote collaboration on freshwater management issues, particularly relating to district/city functions like water supply, wastewater and stormwater networks.

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For further information please see the draft issues and options paper summaries below. Note these present draft options that are still being developed and assessed, not approved Bay of Plenty Regional Council policy positions. Full draft Issues and Options papers will be available shortly. 

Please read the factsheet which provides further information about three of the many draft management options being considered to improve water quality. Note these draft options are still being developed and assessed. They may or may not be advanced further, and are not approved Bay of Plenty Regional Council policy positions. 

Retirement of compromised lowland farmland around highly degraded estuaries

Kaituna & Waihï Estuary - Retirement of low-lying land

Freshwater body stock exclusion and riparian setbacks

Retirement or grazing restrictions on steep land

Still have questions? Visit our freshwater information hub.

Freshwater Management Unit Community Drop-in events

Online workshops: Participants will be guided through the options that are being considered and feedback will be recorded. The workshop will be 90 mins in duration.
Registration is required with a minimum of 10 participants to proceed. Register at the links listed below: