Skip to main content


Home > Our region and environment > Water > Freshwater Futures > Freshwater policy and plan change work

Freshwater policy and plan change work

Freshwater is vital for the health of people and communities and is the lifeblood of our natural environment.

Regional Natural Resources Plan changes

The Regional Natural Resources Plan (previously called the Regional Water and Land Plan) is the main 'rule book' for managing people's use of land and water in the Bay of Plenty. It outlines how Regional Council will implement the Regional Policy Statement and meet Resource Management Act requirements to provide for sustainable use of natural resources in the Bay of Plenty.

Any change to the Regional Water and Land Plan or Regional Policy Statement must go through an extensive public consultation process. Three plan changes are currently underway to improve water management in the Bay of Plenty:

  1. Region-wide Water Quantity - Proposed Plan Change 9: Focused on strengthening water allocation rules and limits. This is an interim step ahead of the development of catchment specific objectives and limits to implement the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.
  2. Lake Rotorua Nutrient Management - Proposed Plan Change 10: New nutrient management rules to protect water quality in Lake Rotorua
  3. Rangitaiki River - Proposed Plan Change 3: Recognises and provides for the vision, objectives and desired outcomes of the Rangitaiki River Document: Te Ara Whanui o Rangitaiki - Pathways of the Rangitaiki.

Information gathering is also underway in preparation for drafting further plan changes to set localised freshwater limits in the Kaituna Maketū, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitāiki (Plan Change 12), Rotorua Lakes (Plan Change 15) and Tauranga Moana (Plan Change 16) Water Management Areas as below.

National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management

Through the National Policy Statement for Freshwater (NPS-FM), central government has directed Bay of Plenty Regional Council to improve the way that water is managed in the region so that:

  • Our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and the estuaries they flow into are kept healthy for people to enjoy
  • Water allocation decisions are well informed, sustainable, efficient and based on agreed limits
  • Te Mana o te Wai (the unique relationship iwi have with freshwater) is recognised and protected
  • Native plants and animals thrive in healthy freshwater habitats.

It requires us to set objectives, policies and limits for water management at a local level that will result in further changes to the Regional Water and Land Plan. We've identified nine Water Management Areas (WMAs) to give us practical geographic areas for delivering on NPS-FM requirements across the region.

We're consulting with iwi and have established community reference groups in the Kaituna Maketū, Pongakawa Waitahanui and Rangitāiki catchments, as well as a Regional Water Advisory Panel and Territorial Local Authorities (TLA) Freshwater Collaboration Group to inform this work. Public consultation on the proposed Regional Natural Resources Plan changes (as Draft Plan Change 12) will start in 2019. We'll be rolling out similar work in other parts of the region in the coming years.

See indicative timeframes for our National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) implementation programme >>