Monitoring and evaluating policy effectiveness
This research area is developing tools and methods to evaluate the effectiveness of freshwater management by regional councils and communities (including iwi).
New Zealand is currently unable to paint a national picture of the state of the country’s waters, largely due to inconsistency in monitoring data between regions. We made a major contribution to the NEMaR (National Environmental Monitoring and Assessment) project that was developed to address this need.
Our review of New Zealand’s long-term river sites highlights the stability of the National Rivers Water Quality Network (NRWQN) operations and the value of that stability for tracking condition over time (trends) in the nation’s waters.
Māori cultural monitoring is needed to track the effectiveness of incorporating Māori values, tikanga, and mātauranga Māori of different iwi/hapū into environmental plans and decisions. So we have focused on reviewing, evaluating, testing, and applying cultural monitoring approaches, methods, and indicators with a large number of iwi/hapū groups.
A more appropriate statistical analytical metric to quantify the "strength-of-evidence" in data has been identified. This has been incorporated into a refined hypothesis-testing/confidence-interval framework and the Time Trends and Equivalence freeware, which is widely used by regional councils.
The Fresh Water Reform 2013 (Ministry for the Environment 2013) highlighted the need for improved monitoring to enable adaptive management approaches. A Performance Reporting Framework has been developed to help councils improve frameworks and processes to evaluate the effectiveness of fresh water policy.
We are identifying how community monitoring can support collaborative decision-making, and are also investigating the complementary relationships between community, cultural, and scientific monitoring of local waterways.