Land and Water Forum and Government Response

The Land and Water Forum was established in 2009 to bring together a range of industry groups, electricity generators, environmental and recreational NGOs, iwi, scientists and other organisations with a stake in freshwater and land management to develop a common direction for freshwater management in New Zealand. It consists of a Small Group with representatives from 23 organisations which met on a monthly basis and reported to the Plenary which had a membership of 67 organisations. Active observers from local and central government also participate in the Small Group.

The Land and Water Forum released the report a Fresh Start for Freshwater in August 2010 which identified a set of outcomes and goals for freshwater management and recommended a number of policy changes to achieve those. The Government asked the Land and Water Forum to continue its consensus building work and during 2012 it released two further reports Second Report of the Land and Water Forum (May 2012) and Third Report of the Land and Water Forum (November 2012).

In February 2015 Ministers for the Environment and Primary Industries asked the Forum to assist the Government with further development and delivery of water policy reform.   On 27 November 2015 the Forum released the Fourth Report of the Land and Water Forum on how to maximise the economic benefits of freshwater while managing within water quality and quantity limits that are set consistent with the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM). It also recommended exclusion of livestock from waterways on plains and lowland hills, addresses a number of urban issues and suggested tools and approaches to assist the Crown’s exploration of rights and interests with iwi.

In August 2016 the Forum provided advice to Ministers on ways to amend the NPS-FM to incorporate the Macroinvertebrate Community Index (MCI) as a mandatory measure of water quality, address nitrogen as a nutrient and provide for a better focus on “swimmability”.

In June 2017 the Forum commented on the overall implementation of the NPS-FM and commented on the Ministry for the Environment's review of the NPS-FM.

In December 2017 the Forum produced an assessment of key freshwater management challenges, including what more needs to be done.

The Forum continues to provide advice to Ministers on water policy.

The Forum continues to work on further population of the National Objectives. By December 2017 the Forum intends to review the overall changes to water policy and its implementation, lessons learned and further work required to achieve the overall objective of improved water management in New Zealand

For more information on the Land and Water Forum click here.

In response to the Land and Water Forum recommendations, the Government released a consultation document Next Steps for Freshwater  in February 2016. There was significant public concern about elements of the consultation, including the non-enforceability of swimmability targets, changes to the manner in which swimmability (E.coli) is measured and the limited use of the Macroinvertebrate Index as a monitoring tool only.  The reforms that were subsequently released in 2017 were in many instances strengthened from those set out in the consultation document.  The key reforms are described above in respect of changes to the NPSFM.

Information about the reform programme can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Last updated at 9:35AM on April 3, 2018