Hill Country Erosion Fund

The Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCE) helps protect erosion-prone hill country. It provides leadership and targeted support to regional councils and unitary councils and unitary authorities. Find out how the fund works and why it's needed.

2018 Funding Round Results

The Hill Country Erosion Fund has approved nearly $36 million to support erosion control programmes across the country between 2019 and 2023.  Twelve councils were approved for funding – 4 of which had not previously received HCEF support.

About the HCE Fund

Hill Country Erosion Fund Graphic

The HCE Fund is a partnership between MPI, regional councils, unitary authorities, and landowners that aims to:

  • plan for and treat erosion-prone land
  • put sustainable land management practices in place.

The HCE Fund uses a total catchment management approach to reduce erosion. This requires all landowners and community members to get involved in identifying issues and creating solutions in their catchments. Reducing erosion in the upper areas of a catchment costs less than the cost of flooding and flood-control structures in the lower areas.


Who can apply

The HCE Fund is open to all regional councils and unitary authorities. For landowners, we recommend you make contact with your council's land manager to work directly with them.

How to apply for funding

Note: Applications for the 2018 funding round have closed. Successful applicants were announced on 17 January 2019.

Find out more

Step 1: Check your project is eligible

To be eligible, your project must demonstrate:

  • section 1 or section 2, and
  • both section 3 and section 4. 
Section 1

Your project involves a significant problem beyond the scope of the regional council because it:

  • has significant national effects (positive or negative), or
  • requires solutions at multi-regional scale, or
  • affects an area of national significance (people outside the region place a significant value or receive significant benefit from the resource).
Section 2

The problem may currently (or in the near future) be beyond the capacity of local government because:

  • the sheer scale of the problem, when considered on a total catchment basis, exceeds the resources of the council
  • the region lacks the income from its rating base, or other assets, or cannot prioritise resources to address the problem and carry out its other functions
  • the problem is longstanding and was inherited by the regional council when it was established and is, therefore, at a disadvantage compared with other regions.
Section 3
  • The problem must be quantified in environmental and economic terms. The costs and benefits of the proposal need to be clearly described to enable a balanced judgement of whether the proposal is rational to fund from an economic perspective.
Section 4
  • The proposed solution is consistent with achieving Government's desired Sustainable Land Management outcomes.

Step 2: Check your project against the assessment criteria

MPI uses an independent advisory panel to assess each application. The following criterion are used.

Assessment criteria

CriterionWhat you need to do
Significance of the problem or opportunity


  • how significant the problem or opportunity is to the region
  • its relative priority to the sector and/or region.

We'll take into account links to strategic plans or policy objectives (if applicable).

Contribution to the One  Billion Tree initiative Clearly demonstrate how many trees will be planted as a result of MPI investment.
Contribution to environmental sustainability Demonstrate how the project will contribute to environmental sustainability for the region.
Contribution to economic and social sustainability Demonstrate how the project will contribute to economic and social sustainability for the region.
Ability to deliver Provide details of project management, financial management, technical skills, and a sound methodology.
Value for money Demonstrate a good return on investment.

We'll consider the:

  • overall value of the outcomes of the project – whether economic, environmental or social
  • level of non-HCE funding and in-kind contributions relative to the project outcomes.


  • any risks posed by the project
  • technical and delivery risks
  • how risks might be mitigated.

MPI must be satisfied that the level of residual risk is acceptable and that the funding asked for is appropriate for this level of risk.

Adoption and extension planning Show that project work can be shared through appropriate networks.
Māori development Demonstrate the project's relevance to Māori development and engagement.

Step 3: Prepare your application

When the next funding round opens, contact MPI to ask for an application form, and to discuss your proposal and the application process.

What happens next

Once we've received your application we will assess it for eligibility and against the assessment criteria.

MPI will contact you to let you know how your application is progressing.

Poplars and willows for erosion control

Poplars and willows are used extensively under the Hill Country Erosion Fund. They're hardy, fast-growing trees that are suited to reducing erosion and providing stream bank protection due to their extensive and deep root network.

They also:

  • provide animal welfare benefits through the provision of shade, shelter, and fodder in drought and flood situations
  • filter and uptake nutrients, particularly nitrogen from groundwater
  • qualify (at appropriate planting densities) for carbon credits through the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about the Hill Country Erosion Fund:

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