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About the Te Mana o te Wai Fund

This page outlines the role of the Te Mana o te Wai Fund and explains how the fund is helping to make a positive difference to the water quality of freshwater bodies. 

Purpose of the fund

The purpose of the Te Mana o te Wai Fund is to help Māori improve the water quality of freshwater bodies (including lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and lagoons) that are of importance to them by:

  • supporting iwi/hapū to play an active part in improving the water quality of their local freshwater bodies
  • enabling iwi/hapū to actively participate in managing their local freshwater bodies
  • developing partnerships and working in collaboration with others
  • assisting iwi/hapū and the wider community recognise the importance of fresh water in supporting a healthy ecosystem, including supporting human health.

The concept of Te Mana o te Wai reflects the recognition of fresh water as a natural resource whose health is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being of communities.


The Government budget for 2014 provided $5 million (over two years) to create the Te Mana o te Wai Fund. The funding was announced in partnership with the Māori Party. 

All of this funding was awarded through a one-off contestable funding round held in 2015. The fund is currently closed for applicants. The fund will be open again for applications in late 2020.

The table below provides the criteria that projects had to meet to be eligible for funding.

Funding eligibility criteria


Projects must be focused on activities to improve water quality of freshwater bodies (including lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and lagoons) that are important to local iwi/hapū.


Projects must be focused on practical ‘on-the-ground’ action to improve water quality.


Projects must demonstrate more than one of the following:

·         support or enable iwi/hapū participation in freshwater management

·         involve local iwi/hapū in the governance structure or decision-making processes on fresh water

·         support iwi/hapū-led freshwater restoration projects

·         support iwi/hapū to engage in freshwater quality initiatives

·         develop iwi/hapū capacity and capability in relation to fresh water.


Projects must support partnership and collaboration.


Projects should be for a discrete timeframe of up to two years. After this the project objectives will have been achieved.


The funding is open to all legal entities.


The minimum grant available is $200,000. All amounts exclude GST.


The fund will not cover the entire cost of the project. Applicants will need part funding from other sources.

Contact us

Hono Tahua – Communities & Freshwater Investments