19.1 Introduction

19.1.1 To Waikato-Tainui, water has the ability to create and sustain life.

It is no coincidence that Waikato-Tainui marae were established alongside or near water bodies. Water is required to sustain the functions of the marae, hapuu, and the people. The significance of water to Waikato-Tainui is immeasurable and the respect taangata whenua has for it is demonstrated by the manner and purposes for which it is used and handled. This includes certain waters being used only for bathing, blessings, healing, spiritual cleansing, gathering kai, and waters that are totally excluded from use for cultural reasons.

19.1.2 Waikato-Tainui recognises that water is a highly contestable, public resource.

National and Local Authority Policies and Plans determine the manner and principles for which water may be allocated. This involves determining limits for allocable use (waters to be used for predominantly economic purposes) and understanding the assimilative capacity (water to remain to sustain ecosystems) of water bodies. What has been missing from setting those types of limits is the incorporation of tribal knowledge. summary of the Waikato-Tainui view of water, and regard for its use can be broadly noted as the following:

(a) Wai Ora – Life giving and sustaining. These waters are generally regarded as pristine, sanctified water, primarily used for “higher” purposes such as ceremonial use, blessings, cleansing of chiefs etc. These waters are generally spring waters (puna), or in areas specifically designated for higher purposes. These waters must be protected.

(b) Wai Maaori – Useable for general purposes. These are waters that can be used for general purposes such as drinking, recreation, sustenance, economic use and provision for food gathering. Waters used to sustain the marae functions should be protected for marae use. Waters used for general purpose should be managed in a way that ensures the future of the tribe can be sustained.

(c) Wai Kino – Waters of limited use. These waters can still be used generally, but may have limited ability to sustain life or to be safely used due to poor water quality, accessibility, or other limiting factors. These waters require greater management to ensure safe and optimal use.

(d) Wai Mate – Waters that have exceeded the ability to properly sustain life. These waters are regarded as not fit for human or certain productive use. To some they are identified as ‘dead’ waters, but to Waikato-Tainui, no water is regarded as being ‘dead’, as all things, including water, have mauri. Therefore, these waters must be better managed and restored to a higher quality.

19.1.3 The classification of water into the above ‘states’ of water should be determined by whaanau, marae, hapuu, and iwi who are kaitiaki and/or exercise mana whenua over part or all of a water body, and be incorporated in the future of water management.

19.2 Ngaa aahua o te Wai (Classes of Water)

19.2.1 To Waikato-Tainui, the quality of water determines the type of relationship that Waikato-Tainui has with it. Following on from the states of water, the diagram on the opposite page demonstrates how Waikato-Tainui consider water, the state of water, its relevance of use, and general use/management/protection of each state.

Aahua o te Wai 19.2

19.2.2 The diagram outlines the following:

(a) Waters regarded as Waiora must be protected from impacts, and general use. It should not be allocated for general use.

(b) Waters that are required for marae sustenance and/or to support spiritual guardians in fulfilling their roles as kaitiaki, must not be allocated, but must be protected.

(c) Those waters that do not fall into the waiora, or upper echelon of wai Maaori, can be allocated for general human purposes, but must be used in a manner that demonstrates greatest efficiency, and optimises cultural, spiritual, environmental, social, and economic wellbeings.

(d) Waters that are regarded as being ‘lifeless’ or ‘dead’ must be protected from further degradation, and subject to a greater restorative plan.

19.2.3 Therefore, decision makers of policies, plans, and resource consents must consider the state of the water, impacts on the use of the water, and the relationship of Waikato-Tainui relationship with water.

19.3 Issues

19.3.1 Water is a fundamental component for all dimensions of life. Water not only sustains life, but also serves an economic, social, cultural, spiritual, and political purpose. Regardless of the significance of water, the increase in water contamination by cities, industries, and agriculture/horticulture has led to the deterioration of the mauri of water. The degradation of the whenua and waterways affects the use (physical and metaphysical) of water resources, hauanga kai, and water’s life supporting capacity. It is recognised that there are two major issues related to water; water quality and water quantity (allocation). These have significant impacts on the relationship between Waikato-Tainui and Water.

The relationship between Waikato-Tainui and Water

19.3.2 The regard that Waikato-Tainui has for the Waikato River cannot be understated. Historically, through tikanga and kawa, Waikato-Tainui learned how to manage water bodies to ensure their capacity to sustain the tribe. Over many generations, successive governments, and the development of plans and policies that dictate the management of all water bodies, the ability of Waikato-Tainui to actively manage its waters diminished. For Waikato-Tainui, the relationship between the tribe and its waters has been weakened due to the following matters:

(a) Land confiscation;

(b) Lack of recognition of taangata whenua values in local policy;

(c) Limited representation of taangata whenua at a governance level;

(d) Economic objectives overriding cultural, spiritual and environmental aspirations;

(e) The ability to physically access water bodies has diminished;

(f) Poor water quality has diminished the desire to use and enjoy water bodies; and

(g) Waikato-Tainui does not have an equitable share of allocable water for economic purposes.

19.3.3 Providing for the matters above would go some way towards enhancing the relationship of Waikato-Tainui with its waters.

Water Quality

19.3.4 The quality of water determines the relationship that the tribe has with its waters. Environmental degradation, at a national level, has occurred at a large cost and the physical, chemical, and biological quality of water has deteriorated as a result of both point source pollution (discharges into a body of water at a single location), and non-point source pollution (contamination from diffuse sources). The waters of the Waikato region have been modified to support economic gains, and the impacts of previous poor management practices are increasingly being seen. As a result, human impacts from such uses as farming/agriculture, wastewater discharges, damming, horticulture, urban development, alterations to the natural hydrology (straightening) of rivers and streams, and forestry conversions have modified natural water flows and increased the degree of contaminants that a water body receives resulting in a decrease in water quality of rivers and streams, and forestry conversions have modified natural water flows and the degree of contaminants that a water body receives resulting in a decrease in water quality.

19.3.5 At times, waterway restoration initiatives that are not well timetabled can decrease water quality. For example, the indiscriminate removal of mature exotic trees from waterways can increase erosion and sediment loading into the waterway. Until replanted trees reach maturity this can also result in the destruction of habitats, such as habitat for the pekapeka (native bat).

19.3.6 Due to the large catchment area of the Waikato River, and the highly fertile farmland, historical agricultural activities expanded at an exponential rate. Consequently, water quality is often poor in areas where high levels of agricultural activity leach pollutants into groundwater. The nature of non-point source pollution, non-compliant discharges of urban run-off, and sewage effluent make it difficult to manage water quality, resulting in the accumulation of contaminants in sensitive environments.

19.3.7 Point source discharges, such as those from wastewater treatment plants, can be highly organic and cause a reduction in water oxygen levels. This can stress fish life.

19.3.8 The by-products of the previously mentioned activities contribute to the increase in nutrient levels and accumulation of key contaminants in water. An increasing trend in nutrient levels within New Zealand rivers and lakes is likely to result in unwanted changes to river/lake ecosystems.

19.3.9 The presence of metals such as iron, manganese, boron, mecury, and arsenic can have harmful effects on human health. Likewise, the use of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides are also recognised as potential contaminants of water.

19.3.10 Water clarity can be altered by activities such as sand dredging/mining that occur on the lower reaches of the Waikato River and soil erosion that increases the risk of sedimentation. Increased suspended sediment in waterways can have an adverse effect on ecosystems such as through smothering aquatic life in estuaries.

19.3.11 Contributing contaminants in water degradation are the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous. Nitrogen is found in groundwater (in the form of nitrate) and is monitored for health and environmental reasons. Elevated levels of nitrogen indicate the presence of other pollutants in freshwater, and can pollute surface water. A key issue is that, with increasing nitrogen and phosphorous levels, the risk of harmful algal blooms also increases threats to human and animal health. Increasing nutrients also increases nuisance aquatic weed growth and, with increasing algae, reduces water clarity. Elevated pathogen (bacteria, such as E. coli, and viruses) levels in water are a risk to human and animal health.

19.3.12 Another major contributor to the quality of water is the introduction and poor management of pest species. The quality of water and its role in the natural biodiversity of waterways has been greatly altered as a result of transporting and holding pest fish and plant species. Pest fish (e.g. koi carp, catfish, perch, and tench) have stripped water channels of vegetation as well as excluded or out-competed native fish species. Similarly, pest plants (e.g. hornwort, yellow flag, and alligator weed) are also being transported by water and deposited on lands, where they have dominated and crowded out native flora. Pest species management is discussed in Chapter 15, ‘Ngaa taonga Maaori tuku iho me te aarai taiao – natural heritage and biosecurity’.

19.3.13 Waikato-Tainui aspires to have waters that are drinkable, swimmable, and fishable with the water quality at least at the level it was when Kiingi Taawhiao composed his maimai aroha. The ability to have drinkable and fishable water is limited by a number of factors such as the concentrations of E. coli, eutrophication, suspended sediments, arsenic and mecury.

19.3.14 An integrated approach is also lacking between responsible agencies, industry partners, the community and Waikato- Tainui. Sharing information and accepting roles and responsibilities would assist in better management of these issues that contribute to water degradation. Waikato-Tainui acknowledges that, since the establishment of co-management over the Waikato River, there has been a shift towards improving integrated management of water, such as through Joint Working Parties, that include Waikato-Tainui, and building key stakeholder relationships through the region.

Water Quantity (Allocation)

19.3.15 On an international level, New Zealand benefits from an abundance of water. The total water use in New Zealand is estimated to be at least two to three times more water per capita than in 30 other OECD countries. However, the availability of water, with regards to supply and demand, is highly variable across regions and seasons. The Waikato region experiences both drought and flooding events that can be aggravated by human intervention. It is the scarce and valuable nature of water, which highlights a key issue of water allocation and the need for efficient allocation and management regimes.

19.3.16 The key issues and considerations for water quantity include:

(a) Limits are set for every surface water body in the Waikato Region in the regional plan, and yet a number of catchments are over allocated, and hence Waikato-Tainui considers these over allocated catchments degraded;

(b) The ‘First-In First-Served’ approach as the only legal allocation method is inefficient and not supported by Waikato-Tainui;

(c) Water can be a ‘subtractable resource’ – meaning that a disposition has occurred between Waikato-Tainui and its water bodies because, if water is consumed by one party, it is generally not available for use by Waikato-Tainui or any other party;

(d) Due to confiscation and other Crown actions, Waikato-Tainui do not have an allocation of water to provide for economic, social, environmental, spiritual, and cultural purposes;

(e) Waikato-Tainui consider that the current allocatable thresholds may historically have been driven by economic gains and other competing factors, resulting in over allocation;

(f) Waikato-Tainui considers that there may be an expectation from existing consent holders that they should, as of ‘right’, have their consents renewed at expiry. However, if water has been over-allocated or there are other limiting factors in the allocation, the expectation of renewal can hardly be assumed;

(g) The role of Waikato-Tainui in decision making is limited;

(h) Ensuring that consent holders for water use (including water take and direct or indirect discharge to water) comply with their consent conditions and strive for efficiency in water use;

(i) Allocable ‘space’ needs to be created to allow new, more effective, and efficient users to enter the water market;

(j) There is a lack of accurate knowledge about how much water is actually being used;

(k) The assimilative (water to remain to sustain ecosystems) capacity of water in the Waikato Region is relatively unknown;

(l) Water extraction can, in some cases, not leave sufficient water for healthy aquatic ecosystems and fish life;

(m) The potential effects of climate change on water bodies could cause increasing droughts in some areas that could reduce summer low flows that could create greater stress for aquatic life. Increases in storm flows can increase the potential to scour life and habitats out of water ways (particularly smaller more open streams). (Note thathuman induced climate change is considered in Chapter 17, ‘Ngaa Morearea, Natural Hazards’);

(n) Water bodies, such as streams and rivers, are still relied upon to disperse and minimise diffuse and direct discharges, where efficient and effective treatment of discharges should be the first priority; and

(o) The issue of Waikato-Tainui rights and interests in water has not been resolved between the Treaty Partners, in this case, Waikato-Tainui and the Crown.

19.4 Objectives, Policies & Methods

Objective – The relationship between Waikato-Tainui and Water

19.4.1 Waikato-Tainui engage and participate in the highest level of decision-making on matters that affect waters in the Waikato-Tainui rohe.

Policy – decision making To ensure that Waikato-Tainui engage and participate in the highest level of decision-making on matters that affect waters in the Waikato-Tainui rohe.


(a) National, Regional, and Local Authorities engage Waikato-Tainui on any matters that may have an effect on the management, quality, and quantity of waters within the Waikato region, including involving Waikato-Tainui in any associated decision making functions.

(b) Waikato-Tainui are engaged by relevant local authorities when determining allocable flows for waters within the Waikato region.

(c) Engagement occurs prior to the public release or notification of consents, policies, discussion documents, protocols, plans, and/or regulations consistent with Chapter 6, ‘Te koorero tahi me Waikato-Tainui – consultation and engagement with Waikato-Tainui.’

(d) Authorities and water users (including water take, direct and indirect discharges) provide for, and are consistent with relevant sections of this Plan.

(e) If determined by the Authority and Waikato-Tainui, a joint statement with recommendations, should be submitted to the respective decision-making Board, Local Authority, or Committee.

Objective – water quality

19.4.2 Water quality is such that fresh waters within the rohe of Waikato-Tainui are drinkable, swimmable and fishable in all places (with water quality to the level that Kiingi Taawhiao could have expected in his time).

Policy – water quality Regulators to set clearer and higher water quality targets, and to develop and incentivise methods to achieve these targets.


Those regulating the use of water (including water take, and direct and indirect discharges to water):

(a) In consultation with Waikato-Tainui, classify water as wai ora, wai Maaori, wai kino, or wai mate and set water quality targets accordingly such that:

i. Wai ora quality is retained and protected;

ii. Wai Maaori quality is such that the water can be used for general human purposes, but must be used in a manner that demonstrates greatest efficiency, and optimises cultural, spiritual, environmental, social, and economic wellbeings;

iii. Wai kino and wai mate has water quality improvement targets set so that, over time and in a sustainable manner, water quality is improved to a state commensurate with its pre-degraded state.

iv. Water that is at a quality degraded below its classification has water quality improvement targets set so that, over time and in a sustainable manner, water quality is improved to a state commensurate with its classification or to its pre-degraded state.

(b) Regional councils should prioritise catchments on the basis of the above state of the water and the risks posed by areas of resource use pressure (quality and quantity).

(c) Provide a suite of methods and tools to effectively manage water quality that includes, but is not necessarily limited to:

i. Best practice water quality management;

ii. Audited self-management schemes;

iii. Catchment-scale mitigation and attenuation;

iv. Non-regulatory and regulatory measures to improve water quality;

v. Setting water quality targets for fresh water bodies; and

vi. The use of economic instruments available to effectively manage water quality.

(d) Provide incentives to industry and enterprise to encourage uptakes of available tools and methods that promote best practice management.

(e) Adopt methods and tools to achieve higher water quality standards which contribute to:

i. Achieving iwi, hapuu, and marae values;

ii. Achieving freshwater objectives through collaboration;

iii. Meeting water quality limits in the catchment and the timeframes for meeting them;

iv. Effectively managing contaminants;

v. Ensuring that contaminants do not reach groundwater;

vi. Enabling economic efficiency;

vii. Strengthening communities of interest;

viii. The physical characteristics of the catchment;

ix. The range of land uses in the catchment;

x. The existing and anticipated resource use pressures;

xi. The level of knowledge and data available; and

xii. Managing the likely effects of climate change and unforeseeable natural disasters.

Objective – Water Quality (integrated catchment management)

19.4.3 An integrated and holistic approach to management of water is achieved.

Policy – integrated catchment management To ensure that there is an integrated and holistic approach to catchment management that is effective and informative and the scope of planning is broad.


(a) This objective, policy, and methods to be read in conjunction with Objective 21.3.4, Integrated Catchment Management (Land).

(b) Integrated catchment management plans developed for all catchments in the rohe.

(c) Ensure integrated catchment management plans adequately consider land use.

(d) Integrated catchment management plans include allowance for floodplain and drainage management that promotes the restoration of natural habitats.

(e) Ensure integrated catchment management plans adequately consider natural hazard management.

(f) Land use is consistent with integrated catchment management.

(g) The scope of integrated planning is broad, and includes the management of both water quality and quantity, including:

i. Interactions between surface water, ground-water, and coastal marine water;

ii. Interactions between water quality, flow, land use, and hydrology;

iii. An assessment of the current state of the catchment;

iv. The role of infrastructure, potential opportunities from its further development, and any possible inter-catchment infrastructure benefits and impacts;

v. Setting of objectives and limits in tandem with determining the range of tools to be used for meeting them, while ensuring that social, economic, environmental, spiritual, and cultural considerations are incorporated;

vi. Providing a policy framework that integrates regional and local authorities’ roles and responsibilities;

vii. How industry, community, and local authority programmes can be integrated;

viii. How implementation will be resourced and managed to ensure its effectiveness;

ix. Ensuring effective natural hazard management is in place; and

x. Ensuring requirements for monitoring and review.

(h) Availability and access to data and information should be made easier to assist with catchment management.

(i) Regional councils should, on a regular basis:

i. Undertake monitoring of the state of the environment;

ii. Review implementation plans and programmes related to water management;

iii. Report to the community on progress towards meeting catchment objectives;

iv. Monitor and review regional policy and plan effectiveness to achieving integrated catchment management; and

v. Involve iwi, hapuu and marae values, objectives, and data in a monitoring and review processes.

(j) Aprecautionary and adaptive approach is undertaken to improve catchment management as more reliable information becomes available over time.

Objective – water quantity and allocation

19.4.4 Water allocation is consistent with restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of water bodies within the rohe of Waikato-Tainui.

Policy – water quantity and allocation

Those regulating the use of water (including water take, and direct and indirect discharges to water): Ensure that any water allocation framework operates under consistent principles, is equitable and efficient and restores and protects the health and wellbeing of Waikato-Tainui water bodies.


(a) In consultation with Waikato-Tainui, classify water as wai ora, wai Maaori, wai kino, or wai mate and set water allocation so that:

i. Wai ora is not allocated for general use, particularly where that water is required for marae sustenance and/or to support spiritual guardians in fulfilling their roles as kaitiaki;

ii. Wai Maaori is allocated for general human purposes, but must be used in a manner that demonstrates greatest efficiency, and optimises cultural, spiritual, environmental, social, and economic wellbeings;

iii. Wai kino is allocated only to the degree that it can be safely allocated to sustain life and achieve optimal use; and

iv. Wai mate is not allocated.

(b) Regional councils should prioritise catchments on the basis of the state of the water and the risks posed by areas of resource use pressure (quality and quantity).

(c) The water allocation framework is underpinned by the following principles:

i. Recognition that Waikato-Tainui has rights and interests in water;

ii. Unauthorised water takes are subject to immediate enforcement action to ensure a level playing field for all water users;

iii. Water is a common pool resource and should be managed in a way that supports social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and economic wellbeing;

iv. Access to water for reasonable drinking and sanitation needs is a basic human right;

v. Some commercial investments have been made on the basis of access to water that have been and will continue to be strategically significant for New Zealand’s long-term economic welfare;

vi. All water takes (excluding those required for civil or general emergency) should be accounted for within the allocable limit;

vii. In discussion with Waikato-Tainui, water within the allocable quantum needs to be easily transferable between users where there is a more effective and efficient use of the transfer re-allocation;

viii. The framework for allocating water to users should focus primarily on ensuring the health and well-being of waterways and secondly on contributing to the long-term economic, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and social wellbeing of the Waikato-Tainui rohe;

ix. There is an equitable and efficient allocation and use of water;

x. That the equitable and efficient allocation and use of water may lead to the creation of ‘new’ water for allocation (‘New’ allocable water can come about through mechanisms such as people not renewing or taking up a water allocation consent; efficient water use creating spare capacity in allocated water).

(d) The water allocation framework must cater for all catchments and particularly consider catchments:

i. That have no significant current or foreseeable demand pressure;

ii. That continue to have water available for use and a trend of increasing demand towards full allocation;

iii. That are fully allocated; and

iv. Where water is over allocated and all or any of that over allocation needs to be phased out.

Policy – creating allocable space Water allocation mechanisms enable the creation of allocable space to allow allocation of water to Waikato-Tainui for the social, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and economic health and wellbeing of Waikato-Tainui and the Waikato-Tainui rohe.


(a) Consent holders progressively improve practices to efficiently lower water use.

(b) Incentives (including direct and indirect benefits and costs, encouraging land use practices which support the water objectives) for good water management practices are created.

(c) Regional Councils annually review allocated water use to determine whether allocable space has been created.

(d) Agencies involved in water allocation mechanisms investigate whether an allocation of water could be granted to Waikato-Tainui.

(e) Regional Councils discuss with Waikato-Tainui the outcomes of any annual efficiency reviews and whether there is a need to review any council regulatory instruments in light of the annual efficiency review findings.

Policy – resource consents Resource consents granting, monitoring, and reassessment ensures any allocation of water has regard to best practice and the objective of restoring and protecting the health and wellbeing of Waikato-Tainui water bodies.


(a) Consents should be granted to those activities that minimise impacts on waterways and optimises the long-term economic, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and social welfare of the Waikato-Tainui rohe.

(b) Consents should be well defined so users are clear as to their entitlement.

(c) Consents should be easily divisible so that if it is determined that a consent holder does not require then consented amount it can be transferred to the allocable quantum without issue.

(d) Consent applications granted should have a term sufficient to ensure that water allocation is efficient and effective.

(e) Regional Councils should have the ability to claw back all or part of the allocable quantum from resource consents, to the extent that the water allocated is not used for the purpose for which consent was granted.

(f) Encourage an integrated catchment approach to be preferred over a ‘first-in first-served’ allocation approach to water allocation.

(g) The water quantum that is not to be allocated is protected.

Policy – water that is not to be allocated To ensure that allocable and minimum flows are determined in partnership with Waikato-Tainui and recognises Waikato-Tainui aspirations.


(a) Regional Councils, in conjunction with Waikato-Tainui, will establish the unallocable quantum at each, or any, review of the relevant sections of their Regional Policy Statements and Regional Plans;

(b) Such unallocable quantum will ensure that:

i. The cultural, spiritual and environmental objectives of Waikato-Tainui (as outlined in this Plan and otherwise expressed by mana whenua groups), and the community is provided for, including customary activities and sustaining hauanga kai;

ii. The way that water is classified (wai ora, wai Maaori, wai kino, wai mate) and the impact of differently classified water bodies on any receiving waters is considered;

iii. The ecological objectives of the receiving waters are paramount;

iv. A favourable environment for native species of flora and fauna is created;

v. The natural functions of wetlands is provided for;

vi. A greater water quality can be achieved; and

vii. The social objectives of Waikato-Tainui marae and hapuu, and the community is provided for (e.g. all waters meet safe drinking, food gathering and swimming standards).