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Healthy waterways

Healthy waterways

Updated 24 July 2018 2:02pm

Working together for healthy waterways and wetlands - it's our future

Waterways and wetlands are an important on-farm asset and are places for recreation, harvesting food, and providing crucial habitat for birds and freshwater species. 

What you do on your land makes a difference far beyond the farm gate. By adopting good practices including fencing off waterways and planting, you can protect and enhance water bodies on your land and downstream. These actions can also improve stock health, reduce losses and ease the difficulties of moving stock when done well.

What do you want me to do?

Stay engaged, listen and read about the changes as the proposed Natural Resources Plan becomes operative in 2018.

Talk to your neighbours, Greater Wellington and your industry representatives, such as Beef & Lamb, DairyNZ, Horticulture New Zealand and Federated Farmers about practices for protecting our waterways and wetlands.

What can I do now?

Many landowners are already doing things to improve water quality across the region. For instance, dairy farmers are working toward stock exclusion under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, but like everyone else are still on a journey – good practice is about continuous improvement that is in step with new science and technology.

Many good practices are straightforward, but others require more planning, time and resource.

Here are our top five recommendations for your land:

  1. Have a plan: A riparian plan whether alone or part of a wider farm environment plan (FEP) can help you build good management practices into your day-to-day operations. Your plan will be specific to your farm setup, catchment, topography, soil and climate.
  2. Retire and/or restore critical source areas like wetlands, springs or seeps and margins of waterways: These are water quality “hot-spots” that often carry marginal productive value. Depending on your farm, you might need to do this in a range of ways, such as fencing or changing grazing practices (especially during winter).
  3. Maintain grass filters or plantings around critical source areas or waterways: plant cover can reduce erosion, enhance filtration of runoff, reduce subsurface nutrient losses and improve habitat for native fish and insects.
  4. Manage the type, amount and timing of fertiliser and irrigation application based on your industry’s best practices.
  5. Manage the rate, amount and timing of effluent application based on your industry’s best practices.
Find out more:

Read more

How we can help you?

There are now more resources and support available from us and industry groups (such as DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Horticulture New Zealand) to help landowners continually improve their practices.

We have people with expertise and experience to provide you with advice on land and soil management specific to your farm. 

For advice and support on:




High-priority waterways and wetlands have been identified through the proposed Natural Resources Plan as Category 1 and Category 2 water bodies. These water bodies have significant values, such as ecological or cultural values.

Category 1 and Category 2 water bodies have been prioritised to receive funding support to help with fencing, planting and, where appropriate, controlling pest plants and animals.

We also offer financial incentives for activities that target the protection of erosion-prone land such as pole planting on hillsides.

For further information on the funds:

Wetland Programme

Riparian Programme


Does my land have a Category 1 or 2 waterway or wetland?

We have built a map indicating Category 1 and 2 waterways and wetlands. Search for your property and find out.

We can work with you to identify your water bodies and develop a riparian or wetland management plan for protecting them.


Category 1 streams, rivers and wetlands that are significant for a range of values and may be home to vulnerable native plants and animals
Category 2
  • estuaries that are not listed as Category 1
  • rivers that have an active bed width of 1 metre or wider
  • drains greater than 1-metre wide and water races that are mapped within the lowland areas shown on Map 29 of the proposed Natural Resources Plan (lowland area of Ruamahanga Catchment)
  • any river and stream not listed as a Category 1, but are important to trout spawning (identified in Schedule 1 (trout habitat)).
  • natural lakes

Want to learn more?

Contact us on 0800 4WN REG (0800 496 734) or email for more information on how you can get advice and support.

Other Greater Wellington resources:

Many organisations have developed guidance about good management practice for their sector:

Find out more:

Meeting new water quality and quantity rules

The proposed Natural Resources Plan combines Wellington region’s five existing regional plans into a single document. It is our response to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management issued by central Government that requires all regional authorities to implement new policy to better manage water resources. Learn more about the proposed Natural Resources Plan.

Until the proposed Natural Resources Plan is adopted, resource users must still comply with rules in the proposed plan and current rules in the five existing plans.