Freshwater in the Bay of Plenty

Nau mai, haere mai!

The government is making big changes to the way freshwater is managed. Some of these changes are already in place but most will be included in our new regional rules in 2024 after extensive tāngata whenua and community consultation.

Our regular monitoring means we already have a pretty good understanding of the health of this regions waterways. We have reviewed existing documents and have good knowledge of which waterbodies are important to tangata whenua and the wider community. But, before we embark on this significant journey, we want to ensure we’re on the right track and haven’t missed anything. Understanding your freshwater values and aspirations will help us get the rules right for our region.

So Bay of Plenty - what rivers, wetlands and lakes in our region are important to you? Let us know, and go in the draw to win a GoPro Hero8!

Freshwater values

As part of the government's work to restore and protect the health of New Zealand waterways we are required to develop a new plan for freshwater in our region. For this plan to be effective it’s important we understand what our communities value about freshwater and what their long-term aspirations are for our water bodies. These values, or reasons someone considers a freshwater body important, are what the rules that will eventually be introduced will aim to protect.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which sets out how we as a Regional Council should manage freshwater, identities 13 national values that may apply to a freshwater body (in addition, we have identified one regional value geothermal warm water).

To keep things easy for this early part of the feedback process we’ve grouped these 14 freshwater values into eight freshwater value categories.

  • Recreation - I value this freshwater area as I swim, ski or boat here
  • Natural beauty - I value this freshwater area for its natural beauty
  • Kai/food source - I value this freshwater area as I gather kai (food) here
  • Ecosystems – I value this freshwater area as it sustains a healthy ecosystem
  • Economic – I value this freshwater area as it supports my business or farm
  • Cultural – I value this freshwater area for its cultural significance
  • Geothermal - I value this freshwater area for its heat
  • Other – which includes any other value that doesn’t fit into the list above

Understanding these values and your future aspirations for our waterways will help us develop clear objectives, measurable targets and rules to help ensure they are protected. For example, if a stream is valued for its swimmability, the outcome we want is for people to be able to swim without getting sick. To achieve that outcome we will need to set targets for E.coli and cyanobacteria and methods to achieve reductions where required.

So whether you value a stretch of stream for its ability to support inanga (whitebait) or a river for its swimming holes or a lake for its ability to provide you with drinking water - we want to know.

Kaupapa Māori

Kaupapa Wai Māori

Tangata whenua have a unique relationship with Ngā Taonga Wai Māori. This relationship is recognised through the principles of Te Mana o te Wai presented in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM).

Regional Council’s Kaupapa Māori team are currently engaging with iwi to confirm how they would like to be involved in the freshwater reform. Participate Bay of Plenty is one of several ways in which tangata whenua can become involved, in addition to the engagement approaches outlined in Te Hononga: Māori Engagement Plan for the Implementation of the NPSFM.

A dedicated page has been set up on Participate Bay of Plenty for tangata whenua to allow opportunities for tangata whenua to contribute to cultural values and environmental outcomes relating to their experiences and knowledge. Here iwi and hapū will be able to share stories and/or photos of areas that are significant to them, identify areas where they gather kai, share ngā kōrero o neherā and describe how they fish from ngā taonga wai Māori. This could also include areas of importance for tohi (ceremonial practices) or areas where they may gather rongoā or harakeke.

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