Past freshwater health programmes

MPI supports a range of programmes that help primary industries improve freshwater management. Find out about our programmes for better dairy farming, nutrient management, catchment monitoring and irrigation.

Past programmes that helped improve freshwater management

MPI has supported other programmes that help improve freshwater management through better:

  • dairy farming
  • nutrient management
  • catchment monitoring
  • irrigation.

Better dairy farming

MPI works in partnership with the dairy industry to improve freshwater management.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in July 2013. It sets out the dairy industry's commitment to New Zealand to improve water quality across 5 areas:

  • management of land bordering freshwater bodies (riparian zones)
  • nutrient management
  • effluent management
  • water use management
  • responsible conversions.

Transforming the Dairy Value Chain

The Transforming the Dairy Value Chain programme includes work to improve management of:

  • land bordering freshwater bodies (riparian zones)
  • nutrients
  • effluent.

Every region now has a riparian planting guideline which will help farmers meet goals under the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management.

Transforming the Dairy Value Chain is a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme. The PGP invests in long-term innovation programmes with industry to increase the success of primary industries and reduce their environmental impact.

Farm Systems Change

The Farm Systems Change initiative aims to close the gap between top-performing dairy farms and the rest of the industry. MPI is developing case studies of top-performing dairy farmers to understand how they have improved farm performance (social, environmental and financial) and productivity.

Nutrient management

MPI supports programmes that improve the efficiency of nutrient use on farms – improving farm productivity and reducing nutrient losses to our waterways.


OverseerFM® is a widely used strategic management tool that helps farmers and growers improve performance and reduce losses to the environment through the better use of nutrients on-farm.  

Read more about the Overseer model and OverseerFM®

Overseer website

Clearview Innovations

Clearview Innovations is a PGP programme that is developing a range of products to improve efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorous use on farms.

Pioneering to Precision

Pioneering to Precision is a PGP programme to improve the productivity of hill country sheep and beef farming through more efficient and accurate application of fertiliser. A key part of this is minimising the loss of nutrients into waterways.

Catchment monitoring

MPI supports programmes that improve our understanding of the effects of land use on river systems and estuaries.

Catchment land use for environmental sustainability (Clues)

Clues is a GIS-based modelling system to predict the effects of land use changes on water quality. MPI and NIWA developed the software with various other research organisations, and NIWA now manages it.

MPI uses the models generated by Clues to inform our policy development. We also supply data for Clues, which is available for anyone to use.

History of freshwater reforms 

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Freshwater reform between 2009 and 2018

2009 fresh water reform

The Government launched the joint MPI and MfE programme of fresh water reform in June 2009. The programme has ended, and the Government is now working on fresh water reform through the Essential Freshwater Reform Programme.

Timeline of fresh water reforms

2009 – Introduced nationwide standards for water metering
2011 – Developed National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management
2014 – Placed the National Objectives Framework in the Freshwater NPS, introducing bottom lines for fresh water quality
2016 – Consulted on next phase of proposed reforms
2017 – Consultation on Clean Water 2017
2018 – The Essential Freshwater Work Programme was established

Download a full freshwater reform timeline – MfE

Clean Water package 2017

The Clean Water package was a set of proposals that were announced on 23 February 2017. They were a part of the reform programme. The package included:

  • a target that 90% per centof our rivers and lakes are swimmable by 2040
  • greater information on our water quality for swimming
  • proposals for changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014
  • details of proposals to exclude stock from waterways.

It also launched the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund.

Find out about the Freshwater Improvement Fund – MfE

Land and Water Forum

The Land and Water Forum was established in 2009 to advise the Government on fresh water reform. Its members represent over 65 stakeholder organisations.

Visit the forum's website to learn more about its role

In November 2015, the forum released the Fourth Report of the Land and Water Forum on how to maximise the economic benefits of fresh water while meeting water quality and quantity limits (set in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014). Following this final report, the Forum has decided to put itself into abeyance.

The forum's report:

  • recommended excluding livestock from waterways on plains and lowland hills
  • addressed a number of urban issues
  • suggested tools and approaches to help the Crown explore the rights and interests of iwi.

National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) provided direction about how local authorities should carry out their responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991 for managing fresh water resources.

The NPS-FM directs regional councils to set:

  • objectives for the future state of their water bodies (in consultation with their communities)
  • limits to meet these objectives.
Published reports to help with freshwater management

Three reports published in February 2017 will help central government, local government, and communities with fresh water management.

The reports, commissioned by MPI and MfE, provided:

  • cost-benefit analysis of different management approaches
  • the best solutions depending on catchment goals
  • evaluation of different approaches to fresh water management.

The reports helped provide the evidence behind the proposals in the Clean Water package.

A number of technical publications supporting the reports are also available.


Technical reports

Who to contact

If you have questions about our programmes supporting freshwater management, email

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