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Kotahi Land & Freshwater

What we know about land and freshwater in our region

Hawke’s Bay has seven major river systems of mostly fast-flowing, clean, gravel rivers. There are four major lakes, with many smaller rivers, streams, lakes and wetland systems. Droughts are common and infrequent but intense localised rainfall events can have immense impacts on Hawke’s Bay’s land and water systems.  

Groundwater has historically been relied on as a dependable and safe water supply for domestic, irrigation and industrial purposes across much of the populated areas of the region. Two major groundwater systems sit under the Heretaunga Plains and the Ruataniwha Plains. These aquifers are characterised by complex connections between the underground and surface waters. 

Land and freshwater management has always been a core focus of the Regional Council’s work. The Regional Resource Management and Regional Coastal Environment Plans are the lead documents for the Council to exercise its responsibilities under the Resource Management Act 1991.  

Central Government’s 2020 Essential Freshwater programme directs a range of reforms to turn back from the continuing degradation of New Zealand’s freshwater resources and the risks posed by human activities. It aims to initiate positive change to land and water management, so water quality improves within five years, and to reverse past damage to bring our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation. 

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What the science is telling us

In 2010, the Regional Council prepared Hawke's Bay Land and Water Management Strategy, listing the critical factors to be addressed, including: 

  • Increasing local, national and global concern for environmental and social (ie. cultural and recreational) values and standards 
  • Changing Government policy, regulations and directions in relation to land and water 
  • Declining water quality in some catchments due to both direct and diffuse discharges 
  • Water demand sometimes outstripping water supply, with peak demand usually at low flow periods 
  • Desire for community participation and collaboration to determine sustainable land and water management 
  • Values-based information and new scientific information including Mātauranga Māori and cultural monitoring tools has indicatedinadequate provisions for in-stream flows and ecological health 
  • Increased competition for agricultural land by primary producers and industrial expansion on the Heretaunga Plains 
  • Reduced productivity, accelerated soil erosion and related decreases to water quality resulting from poor land management practices 
  • Risk and uncertainty of changing weather patterns due to climate change 
  • Risk and uncertainty of changing weather patterns due to climate change
  • Increasing competition for the water resource for residential, industrial, commercial, agricultural, recreational and cultural purposes
  • Loss of wetland habitats and the ecosystem services they provide.

Kotahi & Land and Freshwater

The Regional Council will talk with everyone about land and freshwater matters mainly through its catchment-based engagement activities.

A number of issues raised locally will be common across the region. To make the best use of everyone’s time, the Council will set up region-wide working groups to tackle region-wide issues, and local, catchment-based groups will work on developing practical action plans to meet local needs.  This should enable regional consistency to the revised management framework, where this is appropriate, yet also encourage local action.

Your Feedback

The following infographic displays what the community has told us about this catchment in our first round of engagement.  For more information read the full Kotahi Community Engagement Report here.

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