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Kotahi is how we will bring together all of our plans and regulations for Hawke's Bay to look after our environment going forward.

What is Kotahi?

Kotahi will combine and update the existing Regional Policy Statement, the Regional Resource Management Plan and the Regional Coastal Environment Plan into one, while also giving effect to the new policies, planning and technical standards from Central Government. It will be both a physical document and an eplan.

Kotahi will involve everyone in Hawke's Bay, as it will set out how we are going to use and protect our precious natural and physical resources. We will partner with tangata whenua and the community to ensure their values are woven throughout the plan.

After engaging with the community to build it, we plan to notify Kotahi for public feedback late 2024. Work is currently underway and will continue at pace to ensure we meet this deadline.

The big picture

As a regional council, it’s our role to look after the environment. One of the ways we do this is by creating plans with the community for things like freshwater, climate change, and biodiversity.


Kotahi timeline

Our plans need to fully consider:

  • the Resource Management Act (RMA), which is focused on ‘sustainably managing the physical and natural resources in the region’
  • National Policy Statements, which provide national direction on how to manage resources sustainably
  • National Planning Standards, which make sure that council plans are easier to understand and are consistent across different councils
  • National Environmental Standards, which set out technical methods, standards or requirements and provide consistent rules across the country

The most important part of our work is hearing from our community about what they value, such as having clean rivers to swim in.  Our plans need to reflect community values, while also fitting into the national picture for the environment.

Here is a broad overview of what a regional plan could look like:

  • what the community values
  • what the community wants to see in the long term
  • what the environmental issues are
  • how the issues will be addressed
  • how we’ll put it into practice (policies and methods)
  • how we’ll measure and monitor to meet the required outcomes

A regional plan looks at all aspects of the environment including freshwater, soil management, the coastal and marine area, biodiversity, natural hazards and risks, climate change, energy, transport, and infrastructure.

Once a regional plan is in place, it significantly effects how we interact with the natural environment. For example, district plans have to be consistent with regional plans, and people may have to apply for consent to carry out certain activities.

Why’s this important now?

With changes in national policy, regional councils across the country need to bring their plans up to standard.

This means we’ve got a huge opportunity to continue to build partnerships with tangata whenua and the community as we create a plan to achieve a collective vision for the region’s future.

We’re planning on doing this through one regional plan, which we’re calling Kotahi.


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Central government updated it's National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management in 2020 (NPSFM 2020). The updated policy requires regional councils to give effect to the concept of Te Mana o Te Wai in plans and policy statements, and in doing so councils must develop a plan for maintaining and improving the state of freshwater in the region. It also requires councils to:

  • Set long-term visions for water informed by aspirations of tangata whenua and communities;
  • Actively involve tangata whenua in freshwater management such as the preparation of policy statements and plans;
  • Investigate options for tangata whenua involvement in other RMA processes;
  • Establish Freshwater Management Units for monitoring and reporting purposes.

Councils must notify changes to policy statements and plans by 31 December 2024.  The Kotahi Plan will meet all of the requirements of the NPSFM by the 2024 deadline.  Find out more on the MFE website here.

Te Mana o Te Wai is the fundamental concept that underpins the NPSFM 2020 and reflects the vital importance of freshwater. It imposes a hierarchy of obligations that prioritise how freshwater must be managed. The hierarchy is as follows:

  1. The health and well-being of the water
  2. The health needs of people (i.e. drinking water)
  3. The ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being

The Kotahi plan will incorporate the concept of Te Mana o Te Wai and its hierarchy of obligations. (Find out more here -Te Mana o Te Wai Factsheet).  Te Mana o te Wai will be determined locally by tangata whenua and how it applies to water bodies and freshwater ecosystems across the region. 

Hierarchy of Obligations Graphic JPG


An eplan is an online interactive document that allows users to search for a particular property and see the rules and policies that apply to that particular property. The National Planning Standards (2019) require councils to have an eplan.


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