Freshwater reform proposals 2016

This page has information on the Government’s 2016 'Next steps for fresh water' proposals to improve the management of fresh water in New Zealand. 

After considering public feedback in 2016, the Government consulted on some of the Next steps for fresh water policy proposals as part of the 'Clean Water' package.

Read the consultation document on the 2017 proposals.

Public submissions closed on Friday 28 April 2017.

Summary of 'Next steps for fresh water' proposals

The aim of the proposed reforms is to improve the management of fresh water to deliver better environmental and economic outcomes and better outcomes for iwi. 

Fresh water and our environment

Amend the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management to improve direction on:

  • how to ‘maintain or improve overall water quality’
  • water quality attributes for lakes to coastal lakes and lagoons that sometimes open to the sea

  • exceptions to national bottom lines for catchments with significant infrastructure

  • monitoring macroinvertebrates as a measure of ecosystem health

Exclude stock from water bodies through regulation. 

Economic use of fresh water Require more efficient use of fresh water and good management practice.
Iwi rights and interests in fresh water

Strengthen Te Mana o te Wai as the underpinning platform for community discussions on fresh water.


Improve iwi/hapū participation in freshwater governance and management.


Better integrate water conservation orders (WCOs) with regional water planning and allow for increased iwi participation and decision-making on WCOs.

Freshwater funding Set up the 'Next Steps for Freshwater Improvement Fund’.

Consultation on the proposed reforms was held from 20 February to 22 April 2016. The document Next steps for fresh water sets out the proposals in more detail and provides background information.