for Te Ture Whaimana

The Waikato River Authority is approaching 10 years of leadership and advocacy on behalf of the Waikato River and Waipā River. The Authority’s purpose is to set the primary direction through Te Ture Whaimana o Te Awa o Waikato (Vision & Strategy) to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River and Waipā River.

The Authority has been active in policy direction, both regional and national, that impacts the Waikato River and Waipā River. The policy work is supported by restoration funding which has seen $50 million allocated in nine funding rounds to 321 clean-up projects.

Waikato River Authority opposes proposed increased water take for Auckland

The Waikato River Authority presented its submission to the Board of Inquiry last month, that was called to consider an increased water take for Auckland from the Waikato River.

The Authority is against more water being taken, on the basis that it does not help the health and wellbeing of the awa, and it is inconsistent with Te Ture Whaimana.

The Authority’s submission was presented by legal counsel Paul Beverley of Buddle Findlay with supporting evidence from Co-Chair Tipa Mahuta and Chief Executive Bob Penter.

The submission and evidence from the Waikato River Authority advocated strongly for the interests of Te Awa o Waikato and stressed the importance of Te Ture Whaimana in setting the direction for the restoration and protection of the river.

The Board of Inquiry was held on-line because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Auckland’s Watercare is seeking consent to take up to 300 million litres of water per day from the Waikato River to reticulate through Auckland city.

The Board of Inquiry finished hearing submissions and evidence on 18 November 2021 and is due to release its decision on 7 January 2022.

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Te Ture Whaimana

Since the establishment of the Authority in late 2010, it has been important that it pro-actively initiates and responds to the development of national and regional policy to uphold the status of Te Ture Whaimana as the primary direction setting document for the Waikato River and Waipā River.

In addition, the Authority has also been represented on ministerial advisory groups and national workshops that feed into national policy.

Submissions & Representations

The Authority has submitted on matters of policy and legislation at a national and regional level where there are implications for Te Ture Whaimana.


This includes representation and submissions on:
• Ensuring the requirements of Te Ture Whaimana were not eroded by Freshwater NPS infrastructure exceptions;
• Participation in Biosecurity 2025 – appointed by MPI to governance and leadership working group; and
• Involvement in the Land and Water Forum (2010 – 2017).

Waikato Regional Policy Statement (RPS) – Te Tauākī Kaupapahere Te-Rohe O Waikato

The Authority was established as the Waikato Regional Policy Statement began moving towards its hearing process. We determined that Te Ture Whaimana had been appropriately incorporated into the RPS. The Authority also appointed a hearing commissioner to the RPS hearing panel. The Authority has submitted on matters of policy and legislation at a national and regional level where there are implications for Te Ture Whaimana.

Emissions Trading Scheme

In 2012, the Authority submitted to the ETS Review in order to help achieve the best possible outcome for the Waikato River and Waipā River catchment. A key part of the submission was support for the introduction of new forestry plantings within a catchment (off-setting) as a mechanism to mitigate land use change that could derogate from the outcomes sought by Te Ture Whaimana.


Proposed Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 – Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora

The Authority has supported the Waikato Regional Plan Change 1 (PC1) process since its inception. It spoke at the initial process design workshops and particularly promoted the independent Technical Leaders Group (TLG) to support the Collaborative Stakeholders Group (CSG). It joined the PC1 project steering group Te Rōpū Hautū and assisted in delegated roles such as CSG/TLG interviews/appointments.

At the PC1 hearing the Authority presented legal submissions and evidence alongside and in support of the same from River Iwi.

Prior to the release of the PC1 decision, the Authority had initiated discussion to consider how to respond to matters arising from the decisions and appeals to the Environment Court. The purpose of this is to continue to ensure that PC1’s effect given to Te Ture Whaimana is not eroded.

Waikato Conservation Management Strategy (CMS)

The CMS was released in 2014. The Authority worked with the Department of Conservation (including separate legal review) to ensure the CMS appropriately incorporated Te Ture Whaimana:

The Vision and Strategy sets the management direction for the Waikato River and the Waipā River (refer Map 6). It is a statement of general policy and has the same status as a general policy in terms of the Conservation General Policy 2005, which this CMS implements and cannot be inconsistent with Appendix 14, which outlines the Vision and Strategy, demonstrates how this CMS implements the Department’s responsibilities to achieve the Vision and Strategy. - CMS (p48).


Waikato Economic Impact Joint Venture

The Authority undertook the chair’s role in a JV that comprised a team of economists, scientists and social scientists with an overall budget
of several million dollars. The JV developed a series of integrated economic models to assess the implications of different policy scenarios across a range of uses of freshwater. It informed a key part of both national and regional freshwater policy and regulation. The joint venture partners were:

• Waikato River Authority • Waikato Regional Council • DairyNZ  •Ministry for the Environment  • Ministry for Primary Industries

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Restoration Strategy

The development of the Restoration Strategy for the Waikato River and Waipā River, which created a priority blueprint for restoration projects, was also a major undertaking in advocacy for Te Ture Whaimana. During the development of the Strategy (from 2015 to 2018) iwi and stakeholder workshops were held.
Promotion of Te Ture Whaimana came at the front end of all these public discussions.

This included three goal selection workshops and three prioritisation workshops (held
in Tokoroa, Te Awamutu and Huntly), each with approximately 50-70 participants. The Authority chaired the Restoration Strategy’s project steering group.

Climate Change

Advocacy for the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River and Waipā River was a key driver for the Response to Climate Change Workshop organised by the Authority in December 2019. The workshop heard from a number of speakers on mitigation, adaptation and resilience opportunities in the catchment.

A full programme of presentations is available here.

Climate Change Group photo


Under its founding legislation, the
Authority has the ability to appoint hearing commissioners where Resource Management Act consent applications being heard are relevant to Te Ture Whaimana. Twenty-two commissioners have been appointed for hearings by the Authority (after consultation with iwi) and there have also been 22 hearing panel chairs co-appointed in discussion with the Waikato Regional Council.

Details of the hearings and commissioners appointed can be found here.

The Authority requires its appointed hearing panel members and chairs to have a thorough understanding of Te Ture Whaimana.

Best practice in engagement with iwi

The Waikato River Authority has adopted a best practice structure in its direct engagement with River Iwi. This approach has both been noted and supported by the Office of the Auditor General.

“The focus on consultation with iwi and partnerships and collaborative approaches, as part of the fund selection process will, in our view have a positive effect on long- term relationships between iwi and other stakeholders. Technical expertise sought indicates deliberate planning and collaboration to ensure that iwi views and priorities are properly considered.” – OAG Report 2019.

As a standard procedure, the Authority contacts iwi when a policy matter emerges relevant to Te Ture Whaimana to share thoughts.

The Authority’s draft submissions are further shared with River Iwi as an opportunity for feedback before lodging.

The Authority communicates directly with River Iwi as part of the annual review of its Funding Strategy and priorities. Iwi feedback is incorporated in the final Funding Strategy.

In addition, iwi are invited to comment on any restoration projects being funded in their respective areas prior to the final funding decisions. All applicants are required to consult with iwi.


The Waikato River Authority’s advocacy for Te Ture Whaimana extends in multiple ways. A key aspect is through clean-up projects funded by the Authority. In order for projects to be funded, they are required to meet the objectives of Te Ture Whaimana. In addition, the projects themselves engage the local community, who then have a greater understanding of Te Ture Whaimana. In addition, the Authority has presented at international, national and regional gatherings and conferences. The importance of Te Ture Whaimana is fundamental to what has been communicated to many thousands of people.

Of funded projects that have been completed, there have been approximately 300 associated community events, with a total of 10,000 people attending.


Te Hononga o ngaa Wai

In order to ensure an integrated and co-ordinated approach to supporting and upholding the mana of Te Ture Whaimana, Waikato River Iwi, Ministry for the Environment and the Authority have agreed an annual work programme to implement co-designed projects, processes and policy. This collaborative work programme will improve how our key partnerships operate and how we all achieve the overarching purpose of Te Ture Whaimana.
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Funding for iwi led projects

Approximately 30% of successful applications for clean-up projects (106 projects) have been from iwi, representing $15 million, which is approximately a third of all allocated funding from 2011-2019.

Workshops and one-on-one hui have been held with iwi to explain the application process and to assist with information required to make a successful funding application. In the past two years this has included hui/workshops with Te Arawa River Iwi Trust, Raukawa Kaitiaki Forum, Maniapoto Māori Trust Board staff, joint facebook livestream with Waikato-Tainui through Waikato-Tainui Facebook page, Waikato-Tainui Taiao Forum and liaison with marae representatives around their funding applications.


The Waikato River Authority’s Annual General Meetings are an important platform for outlining the work of the Authority, including the advocacy for Te Ture Whaimana, for those who attend these meetings. Since 2015, the Authority's AGMs have included presentations from successful applicants on their projects.

The Authority has held its AGM in different parts of the catchment to highlight its work in these different areas.


2011 Novotel Hamilton, 23 December
2012 Novotel Hamilton, 8 November
2013 Novotel Hamilton, 23 October
2014 Wairakei Conference Centre, 13 November
2015 Counties Racing Club, 26 November
2016 Otorohanga Club, 23 November
2017 Wairakei Conference Centre, 1 December
2018 Wintec Hamilton, 1 November
2019 KPMG Hamilton, 11 December
2020 Wairakei Conference Centre, 4 December


The Authority’s leadership and advocacy for Te Ture Whaimana will continue. The Authority understands it must be pro-active and vigilant to ensure Te Ture Whaimana remains the primary direction setting document for the Waikato River and Waipā River catchment.