Skip to content

Freshwater values, monitoring and outcomes

Freshwater governance and management in New Zealand is highly dynamic. With the Land and Water Forum recommendations, central government freshwater reforms, growing resource scarcity, and mounting degradation of freshwater bodies, there is increasing incentive to change how management decisions for our freshwater resources are made.

Our research programme supports, informs, and helps implement an on-going programme of reform, retaining flexibility to adapt to meet emerging future policy needs in freshwater management.

Now in its second phase, this programme is a collaboration between Landcare Research , Cawthron Institute , NIWA , Lincoln University, Geoff Kaine Research , and Margaret Kilvington. The first phase also involved Nimmo-Bell & Company and Will Allen . The programme brings together economists, social scientists, ecologists, water scientists, policy researchers, and Māori researchers to identify processes and develop tools for freshwater management.

Programme Vision

“Desired freshwater management outcomes will be identified through effective collaborative governance processes and achieved through improved planning, monitoring, evaluation and reporting frameworks. Iwi and wider communities will be engaged in all aspects of the planning cycle, including monitoring, evaluating and updating management approaches to improve economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes for the entire community over time.

Summary Ecology and Society Special Edition

The special edition, Sustainably Managing Freshwater Resources , highlights the programme’s key research findings. Browse the edition to learn more about our work on collaborative processes, community monitoring, Māori values and freshwater management in New Zealand, understanding environmental values, natural resource management policy.

Our Regional Council Forum

Our Regional Council Forum is an integral pathway for involving regional councils in our research. We work with a group of 10 regional councils (Environment Southland, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Horizons Regional Council, Tasman District Council, Environment Canterbury, Northland Regional Council, Auckland Council, and Greater Wellington Regional Council) and the Ministry for the Environment to explore and query the historic and emerging approaches for managing freshwater and the challenges being posed by the freshwater reforms. This forum is a key mechanism to ensure our research remains relevant. Find out more about the Regional Council Forum.


Our research focuses on 2 key areas for freshwater management and decision making:


The learnings from the programme are being communicated through a series of journal articles and conference presentations, policy briefs and guidance documents, workshops, research reports, and seminars.

These publications and presentations can be found in the publications list.

Research Leaders