Freshwater agenda for the next two years

The Government has set out its plans for freshwater action for the next two years in the document Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated.

Three key objectives

The Government has three key objectives over the next two years.

Stop further degradation and loss 

This involves actions that stop the decline of our freshwater resources, waterways and ecosystems and will start making improvements to freshwater quality.

Reverse past damage

We will introduce a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and other legal instruments that will enable our freshwater resources, waterways and ecosystems to be restored to a healthy state within a generation.

Address water allocation issues 

We will be working towards a system for fairer allocation of nutrient discharge and water use that takes into account all interests including Māori and existing and potential new users.

Who will be involved

The Government will bring experts together to test policy options and provide advice on how to achieve the freshwater objectives outlined above. These groups will build on the significant contributions made by the Land and Water Forum and the Iwi Leaders Group who have improved our understanding of complex freshwater management issues.

Working together to protect and restore New Zealand’s freshwater

Working together diagram


The diagram shows the groups that will have a role in testing policy options and providing advice on how to achieve the Government's fresh water objectives.

The groups are:

  • Essential Freshwater Taskforce
  • Freshwater Leaders' Group (forum for leaders from primary sector, business and non-government organisations)
  • Primary Sector Council
  • Science and Technical Advisory Group
  • Regional Council Chief Executives Water Sub-group
  • Kahui Wai Maori (Maori freshwater forum)

The diagram shows the groups of experts which will work together to protect and restore New Zealand’s freshwater.


We intend to provide opportunities for public comment on specific issues in 2019.

Find out more

For more information read Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated.

For information on a new approach to the Maori/Crown relationship for freshwater view Shared Interests in Freshwater.

The Essential Freshwater work programme is closely connected to the One Billion Trees programme. For information on the programme including actions and decisions for implementation see Planting one billion trees [Te Uru Rākau website].