Strongest ever water reforms mean swimmable rivers within a generation

The Green Party says major freshwater reforms announced today provide the strongest ever protections of our waterways, to help ensure the next generation can swim in the rivers of Aotearoa.

The reforms fulfil part of the Green-Labour Confidence and Supply Agreement with the delivery of freshwater reform.  

“We pushed for greater protection of our waterways, and we’ve delivered. While some protections could be stronger, these reforms are a significant improvement on the status quo,” Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today.

“This introduction of robust, clear and enforceable policies follows decades of advocacy from the Greens, and are cause for celebration.

“Water is life, and has an innate value to all of our communities. We have a collective responsibility to protect this taonga, and to ensure future generations have access to clean rivers they can swim in, gather kai from, and drink from.  

“These major reforms create evidence-based, enforceable rules which will ensure that everyone plays their part in protecting these precious resources.

“For decades, successive Governments have allowed our waterways to be degraded, but these strong freshwater protections will help us turn around that legacy of neglect.

“The inclusion of mātauranga Māori – or Māori principles – for water management as a mandatory consideration recognises the significance of healthy waterways to all of our communities. We all want clean rivers, and now that vision is a step closer.”

Green Party Environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage said the national policies and standards delivered in many important areas, which the Greens and public interest groups have spent decades advocating for.

“Our rivers, lakes, wetlands and estuaries are home to many native species. New Zealanders rely on them for recreation, from fishing to kayaking and picnicking.

“Rivers and aquifers provide us with water to drink and use, and to irrigate the land so we can grow food. We all need healthy waterways and these reforms offer them a lifeline.

“The Green Party is especially pleased that the reforms tackle the major issues of land management and water pollution. We know that nutrient pollution is bad news for rivers and aquifers. High levels of nitrogen cause algal blooms and are harmful to wildlife and to human health.

“All in all, these are really strong water reforms. The Green Party has fought hard for the protection and better care of waterways so that all of us, and future generations, have access to healthy rivers and lakes and clean, safe water.

“This is a major improvement which will benefit all of us and further shows the strength of having Greens at the Government table.

“Now that these robust reforms are in place, the Green Party will continue to push for their effective implementation, and a fair approach to water allocation.”  

Today’s announcement follows the Government’s release of the strengthened National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standards to guide councils in how they apply the Resource Management Act around freshwater.

Key wins:

  • Strict limits on nitrogen toxicity.
  • Caps on nitrogen use and clear and firm standards to support ecosystem health.
  • Science-based limits on E.coli (an indicator of faecal pollution) so that swimming and food gathering are safe.
  • Compulsory farm management plans that will work alongside plan rules and standards to help all farmers implement best practice and adjust to the new limits.
  • Strong rules to protect wetlands which are important as habitat.
  • A requirement for fences to be three metres from waterways.

Action

Jeanette Fitzsimon's Memorial

Since her passing, we have been so moved by your stories of Jeanette. Inspiring, challenging, humorous, poignant — endless stories of a life so ric...
Take Action

Action

Local Events

We have activists across Aotearoa / New Zealand who are working hard to build a brighter future for our kids and grandkids. This page lists upcomin...
Take Action

Action

It's time to pay our essential workers a dignified wage

Our essential workers are the heroes getting us through the COVID-19 crisis, yet for too long they’ve been...
Take Action

Action

Join our call to stop funding fossil fuels!

We need to remove all public money managed by the Government from climate-changing fossil fuel industries.
Take Action

Action

Support our Climate Action Plan for bigger bolder climate action

We agree with all five of the School Strike for Climate's demands. Read more and sign the petition.
Take Action

Action

Show your support to end housing inequality

Our essential workers are the heroes getting us through the COVID-19 crisis, yet for too long they’ve been undervalued and many barely....
Take Action

Latest Environment Announcements

Story

Green Party unveils Clean Energy Plan

The Green Party is today unveiling part one of its plan for a fossil-fuel free Aotearoa, including an immediate ban on new industrial coal boilers.
Read More

Story

Funding for Kaipara district community waste programmes

Waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara are set to get a boost with Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today announcing a $361...
Read More

Story

Green Party opposes RMA fast-track bill that cut corners on environmental safeguards and public consultation

The Green Party has opposed the COVID-19 Recovery Fast-track Consenting Bill which shortcuts normal consenting processes under the Resource Managem...
Read More

Story

New protection for dolphins and support for changes to fishing methods

Extensive new protections are being put in place as part of an updated plan to look after New Zealand’s native Hector’s and Māui dolphins, announce...
Read More

Story

Budget 2020: Huge investment in green nature based jobs jump starts sustainable COVID recovery

The Green Party says the $1.1 billion environmental investment in this year’s budget to create thousands of green jobs will help jump start a susta...
Read More

Story

Reducing waste and creating jobs - Minister announces 2020 Waste Minimisation Fund applications open, focus on COVID-19 recovery

Creating jobs in the vital waste reduction sector is the focus of the latest application round for the Waste Minimisation Fund, which opens today.
Read More

Latest Water Announcements

Story

Flood of support for Top of the South catchment

Work to look after nature and restore freshwater quality in Te Hoiere/Pelorus River catchment is getting a significant boost, thanks to new Governm...
Read More

Story

OIA reforms mean more attention to nature and cultural values

The Green Party welcome proposed changes to the Overseas Investment Act (OIA) that will see stronger controls on applications by overseas interests...
Read More

Story

Proposals set out by Government seek to treat water as taonga

The Green Party welcome the fresh water policy proposals announced for consultation by Government that seeks to treat water as taonga and recognise...
Read More

Story

Eels a sign of the health of our creeks

Central government needs to resource local councils to protect our waterways, Green Party Water spokesperson Marama Davidson said today, following ...
Read More

Story

Water important for New Zealanders

Water extraction should be considered a sensitive asset under new consultation launched today on the Overseas Investment Act review, Green Party Co...
Read More

Story

New funding to make a splash improving water quality

The Government is going the extra mile backing the Sustainable Business Network’s Million Metres Streams’ project with a $200,000 funding boost, As...
Read More