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Outstanding Water Bodies

Hawke’s Bay is home to outstanding water bodies. Proposed Plan Change 7 puts a framework in place which aims to protect these water bodies and the things that make them so special now, and for generations to come.

About Outstanding Water Bodies - Plan Change 7

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council proposes to change the Regional Resource Management Plan (RRMP) to include a list of the region’s outstanding water bodies, together with a framework which prescribes a high level of protection for these water bodies in future plan making.  That change to the RRMP is referred to as ‘Proposed Plan Change 7’ or the ‘Outstanding Water Bodies Plan Change.’

The water bodies identified in the Outstanding Water Bodies Plan Change are the ‘best of the best’ within the region, featuring an exceptional cultural, spiritual, recreation, natural character, landscape, geology, or ecology value which is remarkable in Hawke’s Bay.

This plan change aims to protect these outstanding features, in their current state, now and for future generations.

- Hearings were held from the 30th of November to the 3rd of December.



Our coastal and fresh waters are essential to New Zealand’s economic, environmental, cultural and social well-being - highly valued for their cultural and recreational values. They underpin important parts of New Zealand’s biodiversity and natural heritage.

Regional councils are tasked with ensuring all of New Zealand’s water bodies are managed wisely.  The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement set a clear national direction to assist regional councils to manage water bodies in a consistent, integrated and sustainable way.

A number of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and coastal areas are iconic and well known globally for their natural beauty and unique values. The NPSFM recognises this, and allows for exceptional water bodies to have special protection.  

The Outstanding Water Bodies Plan Change amends the RPS to reflect NPSFM provisions which require the protection of the significant values of outstanding water bodies.  This special protection does not lesson the importance of, or value associated with other water bodies, which are managed through other parts of the Regional Resource Management Plan or Council work programme.

There are no new rules but the Outstanding Water Bodies Plan Change puts in place a framework of policies and objectives that will apply to the development of catchment-based plan changes and future resource consents.

The changes will take effect once the relevant catchment based plan change is operative or after 31 December 2025, whichever is sooner.

In future, when developing catchment-based plan changes Regional Council will work with the relevant iwi, community, businesses and stakeholders to identify the significant values of each water bodies and determine how best to protect the outstanding and significant values for each water body.

Over the past two years, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has been working towards identifying outstanding water bodies within the region. This is a key aspect of implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM).

In June 2017, this Regional Council endorsed an approach, co-designed with tāngata whenua representatives of the Regional Planning Committee, to identify outstanding water bodies in Hawke’s Bay.

Staff carried out a high-level review of 90 publications,which documented the cultural, spiritual, recreation, landscape, geology, natural character and ecology values associated with 130 water bodies across the region. This was done to build a clearer picture of their value and potential for being classified as outstanding.

Mid 2018, the high level review findings were reported to the Regional Planning Committee. The Regional Planning Committee selected a list of 22 candidate OWB to proceed for secondary assessment by Council staff.

Following completion of the secondary assessments, staff sought feedback from iwi authorities, territorial authorities, key stakeholder groups and the general public on Plan Change 7. Feedback from this process featured requests for additional water bodies to be identified as Outstanding Water Bodies for NPSFM purposes. For clarification, individual secondary assessments were not carried out for the additional nominated water bodies, however their associated values can be found in the report titled 'Selecting a list of outstanding water bodies in Hawke’s Bay'.  

In December 2018, Council staff contracted a local expert panel to evaluate, categorise and identify outstanding characteristics, for all value sets, from the list of 22 candidate OWB and the additional 20 water bodies put forward by key stakeholders, iwi authorities and the general public. The report and recommendations of the local expert panel can be found here.

In May 2019, the Regional Planning Committee selected the list of water bodies for inclusion in Draft Plan Change 7.  Council consulted iwi authorities, territorial authorities, stakeholder groups and the general public on Draft Plan Change 7 and has made subsequent amendments based on this feedback.

In July 2019, Council adopted the proposed Plan Change 7 for public notification with a 6 month submission period.

More information regarding the development process of Plan Change 7 and summaries of the values associated with each of the outstanding water bodies identified in Plan Change 7 can be found under supporting information.

The Ngaruroro and Clive Rivers are also being considered for protection under a Water Conservation Order. This is a separate process.


OWB timeline Aug 2020


Values Reports


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