Pūnaha mīhini waikino

Residential wastewater systems

Home wastewater systems are used on property that's aren't connected to our reticulated sewer network.

That includes houses in all areas outside Gisborne city, Te Karaka, and Te Puia townships. It also includes houses at Wainui beach, Makaraka and rural and coastal areas.

On this page

Domestic wastewater systems

There are 2 main types of onsite wastewater systems:

  • one or more septic tanks with a gravity or pumped effluent disposal bed
  • a home treatment system that usually has dripper line disposal.
Your wastewater system may include:
  • sanitary plumbing fixtures connected to drain pipes that take sewage and
  • sullage – that’s the liquid from kitchens, wash basins, toilets and laundries – to the septic tank
  • treatment tanks – passive, aerated or filtered
  • a distribution system, pump, siphon, or gravity fed
  • an effluent disposal system, trenches, beds, mounds, or dripper lines.

How the system works

The type of system you install will depend on your property. Most systems work in a similar way - wastewater is gradually separated, treated, and dispersed, with the help of an army of natural organisms.

If you’re installing a new system, it’s important that the tanks and effluent beds are the right size so they have the time and area to work efficiently.
Talk to a professional about the best type of system, size and location for your property.

See our list of approved people - they do site assessments and design for onsite wastewater systems.

Installing a septic tank or effluent disposal system will require site evaluation and design before a building consent can be issued.

You'll need to provide details of this work, a site plan and details of the system type, size and layout with your building consent application.

We will only accept the work of recognised wastewater engineers and those on our list of approved assessors

Wastewater site assessors and system designers

List of approved assessors who can evaluate the soil type and soak rate. They use a set of guidelines to design a system that will suit the building and the property, and protect the surrounding environment.

Approved wastewater site assessors and system designers.

They can evaluate the soil type and soak rate, and use a set of guidelines to design a system that will suit the building and the property, and protect the surrounding environment.

Approved site assessors / system designers

Land Development & Exploration LDE www.lde.co.nz (06) 867 3035 027 4989 636 info@lde.co.nz
Thompson Drainage 81 Innes Street (06) 867 4902 027 445 9720 thompsondrainage@xtra.co.nz
Terry Taylor Drainage 89 Customhouse Street (06) 868 5383   terrytaylor@xtra.co.nz
Alan Hall 8 Ferry Road (06) 862 5597   
Carl Horne 834 Gladstone Road (06) 868 1543 021 903 061 carlandtech@xtra.co.nz
WSP  Gisborne office (06) 868 5199 021 240 5541 sarah.millar@wsp.com

Septic tank cleaning specialists

Some local agents who offer septic tank cleaning. Regularly cleaning your tank will keep your system working well.

Wayne's Waste (06) 867 3606
Terry Taylor Drainage (06) 868 5383
Baywaste / Envirowaste (06) 868 6007
Chaffey's Waste Services Ltd Ruatoria (06) 864 5865
Septic Solutions Ltd Te Araroa (06) 864 4831
Fulton Hogan (06) 869 1825

Domestic wastewater treatment plants - service agents

Type of wastewater systemRecommended
service frequency
Agent contacts
Oasis Clearwater
6 monthly
6 monthly
Anytime Plumbing & Drainage
Ryan Walters
P : 027 355 7584
Bio-Cycle 6 monthly Thompson Drainage
P: (06) 867 4902
E: thompson.drainage@xtra.co.nz
Devan Blue
6 monthly
6 monthly
Donaldson Plumbing Limited
P: (06) 863 3688
E: idonaldson@vodafone.co.nz
NaturalFlow Annually Waterflow NZ Ltd
P: 0800 628 356
E: sales@naturalflow.co.nz
Integra S-Series 6 monthly Pauls Plumbing and Drainage
P: (06) 863 3062
KiwiTreat 6 monthly KiwiTreat Limited
p; (03)  312 5787
HYNDS Lifestyle 6 monthly Terry Taylor Drainage
P: (06) 868 5383
Innoflow - Advantex Annually Walters Plumbing
Ph: (06) 867 3065 
AirTech 9000 6 monthly Steve Wolters Plumbing
M: 027 483 9663
P: (06) 868 8335 
 Watercycle  Annually Brian Rofe Plumbing
M: 0272 416 850
Septech Turbo Jet 2000 Annually Contact us for advice
P: (06) 867 2049
Gould Tanks 6 monthly Contact us for advice
P: (06) 867 2049
Enviroflow 6 monthly Ross Brown
M: 021 081 0223
General Servicing   Brian Rofe Plumbing
P: (06) 867 5292
M: 0272 416 850 

The use of any firms or people listed does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the Gisborne District Council of any product or service, that they provide or to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.

You may use your assessment to get quotes from a number of drainlayers and are in no way obliged to use the drainlayer who carried out the assessment.

Meeting the legislations and consents

Onsite wastewater systems must meet the environmental standards in the Resource Management Act and the Gisborne Regional Discharges Plan.

They must also meet the functional and durability requirements of the New Zealand Building Code and the Building Act.

To install a new system or replace a failed system you will need a site assessment and building consent.

The site assessment is to be carried out by an approved assessor, who will design a system or identify the work required to rectify the failure. Or you can use a recognised wastewater engineer to design a system.

The design must be based on the site assessment.

Exempt work and costs

Some like-for-like building maintenance projects don’t need a building consent under exemptions in Schedule 1 of the Building Act.

Replacing a failed effluent line is likely to still need a building consent. A failed system won’t comply with the regional rules under the Discharges Plan so the like-for-like option does not apply.

It can cost between $15,000 for a small basic septic tank system to around $22,000 or more for a more complex system (2014 prices).  Transport costs to remote sites could add significantly to the cost.

Systems that have been installed since 2002 may have a filter on the outlet from the second tank or chamber. They must be cleaned regularly or the filter will clog and cause backups in the tank.

Systems with a pump, aerated home treatment plants (AWTS) and low pressure dosed effluent systems have ongoing power costs. An AWTS needs bi-annual maintenance.

More information

Installing and maintaining a domestic septic tank