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Council welcomes new freshwater laws

7 Aug 2020

Council welcomes new freshwater laws

Gisborne District Council today welcomed new laws to protect and restore New Zealand’s fresh water.

“Healthy waterways are the lifeblood for thriving environments, people and businesses,” said Council’s Keita Kohere, director of transformation and relationships.

Government released the details on Thursday, and Council will now work through those to determine how they apply to our region and how they sit with our current approach.

“Our first priority will be to begin discussions with Māori and local industry representatives, and to help those most affected to understand and implement the first part of the changes,” Ms Kohere said.

“We recognise that many local farmers and industries have already made great inroads in this region in caring for our waterways, and this will help us all to continue and improve on that work.

“We’re developing changes to our own policies to improve how we care for all the waterways in our region and ensure we deliver on the Government’s new rules.” 

New national rules will apply immediately for particular land and water use activities. These mainly affect:

  • Farmers and growers
  • People who take fresh water from rivers, lakes, wetlands, springs or groundwater
  • Land developers
  • Earthmovers and drainage contractors
  • Anyone conducting works near waterways or wetlands.

The most immediate changes will take effect from 3 September 2020. Consents will now be required in some circumstances for:

  • Intensification of land use
  • Winter grazing on forage crops beyond defined limits
  • Stock-holding areas and feedlots
  • Structures or other works in waterways that restrict fish movement
  • Activities that have more than a minor impact on wetlands and streams.

Anyone involved in or planning those activities in Tairāwhiti should contact our duty consents officer on 06 8692535 or email regional.consents@gdc.govt.nz to discuss how the rules will affect them.

Ms Kohere said community-wide engagement will start in 2023 and formal submissions in 2025. In the meantime, Council would work with iwi and industry to guide its next steps.

“The changes are exciting, but they do mean we will all need to keep working together to protect and restore our local waterways,” Ms Kohere said.

“It’s wonderful that the science has lined up with traditional knowledge, and is now being supported in legislation.

“At its most straightforward, we care for the mauri (life-giving energy) of water so that it can sustain us now and into the future. This holistic approach to freshwater management will guide all regional councils’ water planning, actions and decisions.”

Regionally specific information will be made available soon on our website.

See www.mfe.govt.nz/action-for-healthy-waterways(external link) for further details.