Freshwater is a taonga and keystone in many ecosystems, including the ecosystem humans rely on to survive. However, human activity has polluted freshwater sources and put these ecosystems at risk. We will employ Te Tiriti-centric, holistic, enduring solutions to protect and restore freshwater systems and wetlands. 


Our waterways and water bodies are healthy, clean, and support thriving ecosystems.

Values and Principles

Freshwater policies must align with the following values and principles:

  • Honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Water is a taonga and its mauri should be restored and protected. Iwi, hapū and whānau should have co-governance of water, and their customary roles as kaitiaki and whakapapa connections to wai recognised and resourced.
  • Ecological Wisdom: Human activity should support and maintain healthy freshwater ecosystems, prioritising the health of indigenous species and habitats. Te Mana o te Wai respects the personhood, the mana of the awa, roto and moana, and prioritises the health of waterbodies over human use for them.
  • Social Responsibility: Everyone needs reliable and equitable access to water. Water should be managed for its intrinsic values and public good rather than private profit. Water use should be sustainable so that the needs of future generations can be met.
  • Appropriate Decision-Making: Water is a finite resource. Access to and distribution of water for human use should be equitable for current and future generations, based on mātauranga Māori and western science, and determined in partnership with whānau, hapū and iwi.
  • Non-Violence: Safe access to drinkable water is a human right and should be protected. Abuse of, and harm to, water (e.g. pollution and over-abstraction) should be prevented.
  • Interconnection: Ki uta ki tai - from the mountains to the sea. Freshwater management requires integrated management of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The health of people, land, and water are inextricably linked.

Strategic Priorities

The Green Party’s strategic goals include:

“All our waters will be in transition to becoming clean, and able to support healthy ecosystems.

All native species and their habitats will be thriving or on a path to recovery in terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.

Our laws and practices will respect the biological integrity of all life, while prioritising the health of indigenous species and ecosystems.

The customary and decision making roles of whānau, hapū and iwi will be integral to decisions about resource use.

Decision-making about resource use will provide for community participation and environmental justice.”

Actions in this policy that will help achieve this include:

  • 1.2Restore and protect te mauri and the natural character of coastal and estuarine ecosystems. (1.2)
  • Affirm tino rangatiratanga of iwi, hāpu and whānau as kaitiaki regarding decision-making related to wai Māori. (1.3)
  • Ensure that water governance frameworks recognise access to healthy water as a right for all species. (1.5) 
  • Permanently protect nationally and regionally outstanding waterways and water bodies. (1.9)
  • Protect all remaining natural wetlands, including estuaries and coastal wetlands. (2.1)

Connected Policies

Our Freshwater Policy is connected to our Environmental Protection Policy, and to our Conservation Policy, as freshwater provides vital habitats and resources for native species. Freshwater is impacted by Agriculture, Forestry, Energy, and Housing and Sustainable Communities, as major uses of freshwater, and Climate Change, through changes to the hydrological cycle. Through human wellbeing, it is also connected to Health and Recreation and Sport.