Essential Freshwater Package

On 28 May 2020, the Minister for the Environment announced Central Government's national direction for halting the degradation of our rivers, lakes and streams. The Essential Freshwater announcement signalled where changes to the proposed policy package had been made in response to consultation in September 2019.
Horizons works in partnership with the community to protect and enhance our region’s waterways. These waterways are a vital resource; they are crucial to our environmental, economic, social and cultural wellbeing. 
Oranga Wai - Our Freshwater Future is the way Horizons has chosen to represent the Essential Freshwater package and to allow for cohesion across the freshwater work we undertake.

View a list of Oranga Wai - Our Freshwater Future hui and community events.

What we're doing

We are analysing the new requirements against Horizons’ Regional Policy Statement and Regional Plan, collectively referred to as the One Plan, to determine the relationship between the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F), the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020, and the One Plan.

We will also undertake 5 rounds of community engagement to help inform a revised One Plan, these rounds will happen over the next 3.5 years. The first round has been completed and is currently being analysed. 

We are also meeting with iwi, the primary sector and other stakeholders who have a direct interest in the freshwater reforms.

While the One Plan covers many of the same areas as the new requirements, changes will be required to give effect to the new national direction. A revised Regional Policy Statement and Regional Plan needs to be in place by 2024 and operative by 2026.

Horizons has a strong understanding of the region’s freshwater resources. This is due, in part, to our comprehensive monitoring, research and science programmes.

We also have well established non-regulatory programmes and have been working with landowners, iwi, and community groups on fencing, riparian planting, effluent management, and biodiversity initiatives for decades. These include our freshwater programme and the sustainable land use initiative (SLUI).

SLUI also includes voluntary Whole Farm Plans. A big part of the Whole Farm Plans success has been Council’s ability to subsidise landowners, enabling on-farm environmental work to be done sooner. This includes identifying key issues such as using fertiliser effectively, which can help bring down nutrient leaching on farms.

The recent Jobs for Nature funding we received will help us to accelerate fencing and planting, and fish passage remediation programmes we already had underway. The $18 million package also includes the construction of a wetland complex near Lake Horowhenua.

If you have any further questions about freshwater you can call us on freephone 0508 800 800 or email us at For more industry-specific information, speak with your industry representatives or visit their respective website.

Our Freshwater Future newsletter

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to keep up-to-date on the Essential Freshwater package. Select Our Freshwater Future from the drop-down menu.