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 has now been extended because of the COVID-19 alert level changes however there remains the opportunity to attend virtual workshops through September. The new closing date for submissions has also been extended to Sunday 26 September (changed from 12 September).


NZ Avocado has developed a submission for the proposed fresh water farm plan regulations and is requesting industry feedback. Please download the submission below and send any feedback to by the 24th of September.

To view the discussion documents or make your own submission click here for the Freshwater farm plan consultation website.

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.

Upcoming Farm Environment Plan consultation workshops/webinar

  • Public Webinar: Freshwater Farm Plans, Stock Exclusion & Intensive Winter Grazing Pre-submission Online Information Session

Monday 20 September, 2021

7.00pm – 8.30pm

Click here to register

  • North Island: Freshwater Farm Plans, Stock Exclusion & Intensive Winter Grazing Pre-submission Online Information Session

Wednesday 22 September, 2021

5.00pm – 7.00pm

Click here to register

Please register in advance for these online sessions.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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

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


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 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.