The preamble is important as an aid to interpretation of the NPSFM.

It describes the importance of freshwater and that addressing tangata whenua values and interests, including the involvement of iwi and hapu in management of freshwater are key to giving effect to the Treaty of Waitangi. 

It specifies that the national Policy Statement recognises Te Mana O Te Wai and sets out objectives and policies that direct local government to manage water in an integrated and sustainable way while providing for economic growth within set water quantity and quality limits.

It describes the importance of accounting for takes and contaminant sources, introduces the National Objectives Framework, and describes the integral place of Te Mana O Te Wai as part of that framework.  The two compulsory values that must be managed for are ecosystem health and human health.  The preamble makes clear that national bottom lines are not standards to be aimed for.  Where freshwater management units are below bottom lines they must be improved over time to meet or exceed the bottom line.  The pathway and timeframe are for communities and iwi/hapu to determine through councils, taking into account impacts on economic wellbeing.

A new national target is for 90% of specified rivers and lakes to be safe for primary contact by 2040.  Councils need to set regional targets that contribute to the national target by 2018.

In maintaining or improving freshwater quality, some variability within a freshwater management unit is acceptable as long as it is maintained overall.

Monitoring needs to be undertaken at representative sites, and must use the Macroinvertebrate Community Index, measures of flora and fauna, and Mātauranga Māori.

A key purpose of the National Policy Statement is setting enforceable quality and quantity limits.  Limit setting should be informed by the best available information and scientific and socio-economic knowledge. 

Once limits are set, the NPSFM provides for resources to be allocated to users while providing for transfers between users to maximise water’s value.

National significance

The matter of national significance to which the NPSFM applies is the management of fresh water through a framework that considers and recognises Te Mana o te Wai as an integral part of freshwater management.

Te Mana o te Wai is the integrated and holistic well-being of a freshwater body.   Upholding Te Mana o te Wai acknowledges and protects the mauri of the water. This requires that in using water Te Hauora o te Taiao (the health of the environment), Te Hauora o te Wai (the health of the waterbody) and Te Hauora o te Tangata (the health of the people) are provided for.

Last updated at 9:04AM on April 3, 2018