What do we value about freshwater?
We all have an individual relationship to freshwater and value its unique qualities. Identifying these values is important as this provides councils with an understanding of what is important to our community and what needs to be protected or restored. These values reflect the health of the water bodies, the health of the people and the ability for people to provide for their cultural, social and economic needs. The proposed values below try to capture the range of ways we use and interact with freshwater.
Determining the community's values for freshwater is a key component in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM) and all regional councils must undertake this. The NPS-FM contains four compulsory values and other values that must be considered. Communities can identify other relevant values.
The compulsory values are:
- Ecosystem health - the ability of water bodies (rivers, lakes, wetlands and aquifers) to support all life, including fish, birds, insects and plants.
- Human contact - it is safe for people to use freshwater for hobbies such as swimming, fishing, and waka.
- Threatened species - our freshwater environments are healthy enough to support rare or threatened fish, birds, plants and insects.
- Mahinga kai – it is safe to gather and harvest freshwater kai. Freshwater customary practices can be carried out where desired.
Last year, more than 400 of you responded to our freshwater values survey. These responses are now helping to shape freshwater policy.
In addition to feedback from the community in general, we received responses from stakeholders that represent groups of people with similar interests in the NPS-FM. The main stakeholder feedback we received came from anglers and waterfowlers, and commercial vegetable growers. Fish & Game and anglers raised the importance of protecting freshwater fishery (trout) habitat. Fishing was raised as contributing to social and economic wellbeing, as well as providing mental health benefits, being a food source, and contributing to New Zealand’s biodiversity. A concern was raised regarding the impact of Horizons Regional Council’s flood control and drainage activities on trout fisheries. Fish & Game and waterfowlers also raised the value freshwater habitats provide for waterfowl, and recreational hunting of waterfowl.
Horticulture NZ provided feedback on behalf of its levy-payers, and several growers also provided individual statements. Horticulture NZ expressed the importance of balancing the health and wellbeing of freshwater with providing for the commercial needs of growers. They want the domestic food supply value retained, within this value they would like to include discharges of contaminants to freshwater associated with food production. DairyNZ also expressed a view that values were required which reflect the productive nature of our freshwater catchments.
The values (detailed below) will be taken to Council in 2023 to seek their agreement. They will help form the basis of the revisions to Schedule B of the One Plan which will be out for pre-consultation in mid-2024. These values will inform the objectives that go into the One Plan and the rules that will apply to the management of freshwater. This could affect what you can do in, around, and with freshwater.
The values outlined below have come both from the NPS-FM and Horizons’ One Plan. These One Plan values were developed in consultation with stakeholders and the community, and some of these have been merged into our proposed values to update the One Plan in line with the requirements of the NPS-FM.
You can find definitions for all the values below. These are broken down into values from the NPS-FM and regional values, which are in the One Plan.
Some values apply across the whole region and others to specific areas. Where a value applies to a specific location, we have mapped those values on an interactive tool. If you think a value is missing, something isn’t quite right, you want more information, or you want to share your thoughts, you can do this through our feedback form.
Through our collaboration with iwi and hapū we are working through how Māori freshwater values will be articulated and applied.
The values developed through this work are not to be confused with values identified in other legislative processes. For example, within the Te Awa Tupua Act there are Tupua Te Kawa values which reflect the relationship of the people to Whanganui River.
Our original One Plan values technical report is available via the Horizons website.
NPS-FM compulsory values
The ability of water bodies (rivers, lakes, wetlands, and aquifers) to support all life, including fish, birds, insects, plants, and microbes.
It is safe for people to use freshwater for hobbies such as swimming, fishing and waka.
Our freshwater environments are healthy enough to support rare or threatened fish, birds, plants, and insects.
It is safe to gather and harvest freshwater kai. Freshwater customary practices can be carried out where desired.
NPS-FM other values
Water quality and quantity is suitable for irrigation and wash water for domestic fruit and vegetable production.
Our freshwater environments are enjoyable and safe places to carry out recreational activities including walking and cycling.
Stopbanks, floodgates and other structures to control flooding and drainage are not compromised.
The integrity of existing infrastructure (e.g., bridges and roads) is not compromised.
The river and its bed are maintained in their natural state.
This refers to the extent to which a Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) or part of an FMU supports an ecosystem appropriate to the type of water body (for example, river, lake, wetland, or aquifer).
There are five biophysical components that contribute to freshwater ecosystem health, and it is necessary that all of them are managed. They are:
Water quality – the physical and chemical measures of the water, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, suspended sediment, nutrients, and toxicants.
Water quantity – the extent and variability in the level or flow of water
Habitat – the physical form, structure, and extent of the water body, its bed, banks, and margins; its riparian vegetation; and its connections to the floodplain and to groundwater.
Aquatic life – the abundance and diversity of biota including microbes, invertebrates, plants, fish, and birds
Ecological processes – the interactions among biota and their physical and chemical environment such as primary production, decomposition, nutrient cycling, and trophic connectivity.
In a healthy freshwater ecosystem, all five biophysical components are suitable to sustain the indigenous aquatic life expected in the absence of human disturbance or alteration (before providing for other values).
This refers to the extent to which an FMU or part of an FMU supports people being able to connect with the water through a range of activities such as swimming, waka, boating, fishing, mahinga kai, and water skiing, in a range of different flows or levels.
Matters to take into account include pathogens, water clarity, deposited sediment, plant growth (from macrophytes to periphyton to phytoplankton), cyanobacteria, other toxicants, and litter.
This refers to the extent to which an FMU or part of an FMU that supports a population of threatened species has the critical habitats and conditions necessary to support the presence, abundance, survival, and recovery of the threatened species.
All the components of ecosystem health must be managed, as well as (if appropriate) specialised habitat or conditions needed for only part of the life cycle of the threatened species.
Mahinga kai – kai is safe to harvest and eat.
Mahinga kai generally refers to freshwater species that have traditionally been used as food, tools, or other resources. It also refers to the places those species are found and to the act of catching or harvesting them. Mahinga kai provide food for the people of the rohe (region) and these sites give an indication of the overall health of the water. For this value, kai would be safe to harvest and eat. Transfer of knowledge can occur about the preparation, storage, and cooking of kai. In FMUs or parts of FMUs that are used for providing mahinga kai, the desired species are plentiful enough for long-term harvest and the range of desired species is present across all life stages.
Mahinga kai – Kei te ora te mauri (the mauri of the place is intact).
In FMUs or parts of FMUs that are valued for providing mahinga kai, customary resources are available for use, customary practices can be exercised to the extent desired, and tikanga and preferred methods are able to be practised.
Natural form and character
The FMU or part of the FMU has particular natural qualities that people value. Natural qualities may include exceptional, natural, or iconic aesthetic features. Matters contributing to the natural form and character of an FMU are its biological, visual, and physical characteristics that are valued by the community, including:
a) its biophysical, ecological, geological, geomorphological, and morphological aspects
b) the natural movement of water and sediment including hydrological and fluvial processes
c) the natural location of a water body and course of a river
d) the relative dominance of indigenous flora and fauna
e) the presence of culturally significant species
f) the colour of the water
g) the clarity of the water
Drinking water supply
The FMU or part of the FMU can meet people’s drinking water needs. Water quality and quantity is sufficient for water to be taken and used for drinking water supply.
Matters affecting the suitability of water for drinking include:
a) physical, chemical, and microbiological contamination (for example, bacteria and cyanotoxins, viruses, protozoa, and other pathogens)
b) any other contaminants identified in drinking water standards issued under the Health Act 1956 or any other legislation
c) the effects of contamination on drinking water treatment processes and the safety of drinking water, and its aesthetic value (that is, appearance, taste, and smell).
Wai tapu represent the places in an FMU or part of an FMU where rituals and ceremonies are performed, or where there is special significance to tangata whenua.
Rituals and ceremonies include, but are not limited to, tohi (baptism), karakia (prayer), waerea (protective incantation), whakatapu (placing of rāhui), whakanoa (removal of rāhui), and tuku iho (gifting of knowledge and resources to future generations).
In providing for this value, the wai tapu are free from human and animal waste, contaminants, and excess sediment, with valued features and unique properties of the wai protected. Other matters that may be important are that there is no artificial mixing of the wai tapu and identified taonga in the wai are protected.
Transport and tauranga waka
The FMU or part of the FMU is navigable for identified means of transport.
Transport and tauranga waka generally refers to places to launch waka and watercraft, and appropriate places for waka to land (tauranga waka).
The FMU or part of the FMU supports fisheries of species allowed to be caught and eaten.
For FMUs or parts of FMUs valued for fishing, the numbers of fish are sufficient and suitable for human consumption. In some areas, fish abundance and diversity provide a range in species and size of fish, and algal growth, water clarity and safety are satisfactory for fishers. Attributes will need to be specific to fish species such as salmon, trout, tuna, lamprey, or whitebait.
Hydro-electric power generation
The FMU or part of the FMU is suitable for hydro-electric power generation.
Water quality and quantity and the physical qualities of the FMU or part of the FMU, including hydraulic gradient and flow rate, can provide for hydro-electric power generation.
Animal drinking water
The FMU or part of the FMU meets the needs of farmed animals.
Water quality and quantity meets the needs of farmed animals, including whether it is palatable and safe.
Irrigation, cultivation, and production of food and beverages
The FMU or part of the FMU meets irrigation needs for any purpose.
Water quality and quantity is suitable for irrigation needs, including supporting the cultivation of food crops, the production of food from farmed animals, non-food crops such as fibre and timber, pasture, sports fields, and recreational areas. Attributes will need to be specific to irrigation and food production requirements.
Commercial and industrial use
The FMU or part of the FMU provides economic opportunities for people, businesses, and industries. Water quality and quantity can provide for commercial and industrial activities. Attributes will need to be specific to commercial or industrial requirements.
Domestic food supply
Water quality and quantity is suitable for irrigation and wash water for domestic food production.
The amenity values of the water body and its bed (and its margins where in public ownership) are maintained or enhanced.
Flood control and drainage
The integrity of existing flood and riverbank erosion protection structures and existing drainage structures is not compromised, and the risks associated with flooding and erosion are managed sustainably.