Freshwater values

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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.

Previous engagement

Last year, more than 400 of you responded to our freshwater values survey. These responses are now helping to shape freshwater policy.

"When you think of freshwater, what are the things you think of?"

91%

of respondents most associated freshwater with drinking water supply and ecosystem health.

"What physical things relating to freshwater are most important?"

97%

of respondents thought ecosystem health, human contact (like swimming) and drinking water supply were most important.

"What intangible things relating to freshwater are most important?"

77%

of respondents thought connection (including spiritual) and preservation for future generations were most important.

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.

Next steps

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.

Click to read the technical description.

It is safe for people to use freshwater for hobbies such as swimming, fishing and waka.

Click to read the technical description.

Our freshwater environments are healthy enough to support rare or threatened fish, birds, plants, and insects.

Click to read the technical description.

It is safe to gather and harvest freshwater kai. Freshwater customary practices can be carried out where desired.

Click to read the technical description.

NPS-FM other values

The natural qualities of the freshwater bodies (rivers, lakes, streams) that are important to people are protected.

Click to read the technical description.

Domestic water supply is reliable, safe and good to drink after treatment.

Click to read the technical description.

Sacred cultural traditions can be safely performed.

Click to read the technical description.

Waterways are accessible and navigable for identified means of transport, including places to launch and land waka and watercraft (boats, kayaks, rafts, and canoes).

Click to read the technical description.

Fish are plentiful, and there are many different species that can be safely caught and eaten.

Click to read the technical description.

Water quality and quantity are suitable to provide for hydro-electric power generation.

Click to read the technical description.

Water is palatable, safe, and able to meet the needs of livestock.

Click to read the technical description.

Water is suitable to meet irrigation and cultivation needs.

Click to read the technical description.

Water quality and quantity can provide for commercial and industrial activities.

Click to read the technical description.

Regional values

Water quality and quantity is suitable for irrigation and wash water for domestic fruit and vegetable production.

Click to read the technical description.

Our freshwater environments are enjoyable and safe places to carry out recreational activities including walking and cycling.

Click to read the technical description.

Stopbanks, floodgates and other structures to control flooding and drainage are not compromised.

Click to read the technical description.

The integrity of existing infrastructure (e.g., bridges and roads) is not compromised.

The river and its bed are maintained in their natural state.