Legislation, Policy and Plans for Freshwater that growers need to be aware of


The future of water management under the Labour government’s Essential freshwater plan is seeing enormous change.  It will affect growers at the ground level through both central government policy and regional planning regimes with new legislation and fresh water planning process.

Fresh water farm plans

Fresh water farm plans are now recognised as a way for growers to assess their environmental risks and demonstrate progress towards environmental objectives to meet both National and Regional requirements.

The term Farm Environment Plan (FEP) will in time become an overarching title as we move to a more integrated approach of how growers assess their environmental risks and demonstrate measurable progress towards National and Regional environmental objectives relating to fresh water quality, Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and biodiversity.

For more information on implementation and timelines for fresh water farm plans please click here.

The Ministry for the Environment is currently consulting on fresh water farm plan regulations. The consultation period is now closed.


Submissions for the proposed fresh water farm plan regulations are now closed.

By the end of the consultation period, the Ministry for the Environment received 172 submissions on freshwater farm plans.

Officials will read and analyse all submissions over the next couple of months.

A summary of submissions, for each consultation, will be published on the Ministry for the Environment website before the end of 2021.

Policy advice will also be provided to the Minister for the Environment on each of the consultations.

Once the Minister has decided on the policy advice, officials will draft the freshwater farm plan regulations, as well as any amendments to the stock exclusion and the intensive winter grazing regulations.

The freshwater farm plan regulations are expected to come into force from mid-2022, subject to Ministerial decisions.

To read NZ Avocado’s submission please download below:

If you have any questions or would like to receive updates directly, please email or

A link to a previous freshwater farm plan consultation webinar held on 5 August 2021 can be viewed by clicking here.

Please see below the links to the documents related to this consultation for your reference:

Freshwater consultation 2021: questions and answers

Freshwater Farm Plan Discussion Document

Freshwater Farm Plan Discussion Document Summary

Stock Exclusion: Proposed changes to the low slope map document

Interactive stock exclusion map

Intensive Winter Grazing Discussion Document


Proposed changes to wetlands regulations

The Ministry for the Environment are consulting on the implementation of updated regulations on how wetland ecosystems should be managed.
The proposal looks to:

  • Amend the definition of ‘natural wetland’ to make it clearer and ensure that only the areas intended are captured by the regulations.
  • Better enable restoration activities to be undertaken and enable maintenance and biosecurity activities to be undertaken in, and around natural wetlands.
  • Provide consenting pathways for the activities of quarrying, managed fill, land fill, clean fill, mining (minerals) and urban development operations.

NZ Avocado have reviewed and will support the Horticulture New Zealand Submission which will be made available to growers.

A focus of the feedback from the horticulture sector will be to refine the definition of a Wetland to only include ‘natural’ wetlands formed by natural processes with natural hydrology and exclude constructed or induced wetlands and riparian plantings. Industry are also seeking discretionary consenting pathways for vegetation clearance and earthworks associated with horticultural land uses up to 10m from a natural wetland.
Therefore, if your property includes or borders natural or artificially constructed wetlands and you would like to be more involved in providing feedback please contact

Full information click here

Action for Healthy Waterways

Action for healthy waterways is the Government’s programme to change national direction for freshwater management. A discussion document was released in September 2019 and proposed significant changes to our national freshwater management framework. The Government consulted widely during 2019 receiving feedback and submissions on their proposed regulations.

The avocado industry’s submission focused on the timelines for consultation and change, opposing proposed consenting restrictions for new irrigated developments, support for extending existing GAP schemes to deliver Farm Environment Plans and recognition of horticulture’s low water quality impacts in relation to future nitrogen limits.

To read more about this programme and the policy mechanisms that will deliver this change, click here.

Essential Fresh Water Programme

The Essential Freshwater programme includes work on at-risk catchments, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater Management, amendments to the Resource Management Act, Allocation of freshwater resources and a Future management framework.

Relevant policy changes include:

Read more on the state of play about new environmental reforms here, and how it’s impacting the horticultural industry.

Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 – New Part 9A (Freshwater Farm Plans)

A new section (Part 9A) has been added the Resource Management Act that puts in place new regulations that will mandate Freshwater Farm Plans. The purpose of Part 9A is to better control the adverse effects of farming on freshwater and freshwater ecosystems within specified parts of New Zealand through the use of certified and audited freshwater farm plans.

There are thresholds below which a farm will be exempt from requiring a Freshwater Farm Plan – such as arable or pastoral land use less than 20 hectares and horticulture land use less than 5 ha.


What is this?

The purpose of a Regional Natural Resources Plan is to promote the sustainable and integrated management of land and water resources in this region and covers soil (land), rivers and streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, geothermal, natural hazards and air.  A regional plan assists a regional council to carry out its functions in order to deliver its responsibilities to government for the sustainable management of its natural resources under the Resource Management Act.