Once your regional council has set its freshwater objectives and decided how to achieve them, it will need to turn these decisions into provisions in its regional plans. This page has guidance on ‘giving effect’ to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014, timeframes for getting it done, and monitoring progress.

Giving effect to national policy statements

Giving effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) means:

  • regional councils need to set freshwater objectives, and the limits and methods to achieve them, in their regional plans and/or policy statements by 2025
  • the NPS-FM provisions set by regional councils in their regional plans and policy statements may direct the provisions that territorial authorities put in their district plans
  • any consent authorities (both regional councils and territorial authorities) need to have regard to the NPS-FM when making decisions about resource consent applications.

If your regional council’s existing regional plans and policy statements do not already give effect to the NPS-FM they must be amended. The process for amending a regional policy statement or plan needs to meet the requirements of Schedule 1 of the RMA unless specified otherwise in the NPS-FM.

See Schedule 1 of the RMA [New Zealand Legislation website]

For more information about the planning process see the Quality Planning website.

Implementing the NPS-FM

Full implementation of the NPS-FM is required by 31 December 2025. However, the NPS-FM allows for the timeframe to be extended to 2030 if the 2025 deadline will affect plan quality or is impracticable. Certain parts of the NPS-FM have their own deadlines. The following table shows the dates specified in the NPS-FM.

Dates of milestones specified in the NPS-FM

Year Date Milestone About the milestone


1 August 

National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
  • Entered into effect.


31 December

Progressive Implementation Programme
  • A regional council may implement the NPS-FM by 31 December 2015.
  • If it is impracticable for a regional council to implement a policy in the NPS-FM by then, the council may adopt a Progressive Implementation Programme (PIP) to implement the NPS-FM by 2025 or 2030.
  • A PIP must be adopted by 31 December 2015 and publicly notified.
  • Each year the council must report to the public on the extent to which the programme has been implemented.


1 August 

Accounting systems
  • Every regional council must have established freshwater quality and quantity accounting systems.
  • Accounting systems must be in place for freshwater management units where objectives and limits are being set or reviewed.
  • The information gathered through these accounting systems must be available to the public regularly and in a suitable form. 


31 December 

Deadline for implementation
  • Every regional council must fully implement each policy in the NPS-FM by 31 December 2025 (unless Policy E1(ba) applies).
  • Any PIPs adopted must provide for policies to be fully implemented by 31 December 2025. 


31 December 

Extended deadline for implementation

  • A regional council may extend the date for full implementation of the NPS-FM to 31 December 2030 if:
    • meeting the 2025 deadline would result in lower quality planning; or
    • it would be impracticable for the regional council to complete implementation by 2025.
  • If one of these conditions applies any PIPs adopted must provide for policies to be fully implemented by 31 December 2030. 

The deadline for implementing the NPS-FM does not mean freshwater objectives must be met by that date. There will be separate timeframes for improvements in water quality as part of freshwater objectives.

The timeframes for implementing the NPS-FM are set out in Part E of A guide to the NPS-FM 2014. The timeframes in relation to freshwater accounting requirements are set out in Part CC of A guide to the NPS-FM 2014.

Find out more about regional councils’ implementation programmes.

Monitoring progress

Part CB of the NPS-FM specifies that each regional council must develop a monitoring plan. This must state how progress is monitored and where monitoring is carried out.

A monitoring plan will help your regional council determine what progress is being made towards achieving freshwater objectives and if the chosen management options are working. It will also help it know if it is meeting the other requirements of the NPS-FM, such as maintaining or improving overall water quality across the region.

Impact of other regulatory instruments and legislation

The NPS-FM does not exist in isolation. It is part of a broader resource management planning framework and is affected by other legislation.

A regional council implementing the NPS-FM:

  • will need to consider other regulatory instruments under the Resource Management Act 1991 (eg, other national policy statements, national environmental standards, water conservation orders and regulations)
  • may need to consider other pieces of legislation (eg, relevant Treaty of Waitangi settlement legislation or the Hauraki Gulf Marine Part Act 2000) – this will depend on its location.

Read more about the relationship between the NPS-FM and other regulatory instruments in A Guide to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014.

See Water quality monitoring – policy intent and guiding materials for the policy intent behind the monitoring requirements in the NPS-FM.