Fresh water


Essential Freshwater work programme

New Zealanders want to swim, fish, gather mahinga kai and enjoy freshwater as our parents and grandparents did. We also need clean water to drink and to support a sustainable economy.

But some of our freshwater ecosystems are suffering as a result of urban development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry and other human activities.

The Government is taking action to restore and protect the health of New Zealand's waterways. 

State of our freshwater

Our freshwater 2020 examines the most pressing issues for our freshwater.

Four priority freshwater issues have been selected for this report: 

  • Our native freshwater species and ecosystems are under threat
  • Water is polluted in urban, farming, and forestry areas
  • Changing water flows affect our freshwater
  • Climate change is affecting freshwater in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We all have a role to play

We need help from the government, the farming sector, the businesses who use freshwater, communities and individuals. If we all work together we can make a big difference.

Looking after water, what you can do: 

Why freshwater matters

Water is one of our most precious resources – it is essential to life on earth. We want New Zealand to be the most liveable place in the world, with healthy lakes and rivers and the best possible water quality.

Our lakes and rivers are feeling the pressure of more than 150 years of a growing population and changes in the way we use the land. We need to manage our freshwater carefully.