Essential Freshwater package

The Essential Freshwater package is a new set of standards and regulations designed to achieve genuine freshwater improvements for New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, wetlands and other freshwater waterways within a generation.

What’s in the Essential Freshwater package?

The Essential Freshwater package is made up of several policy documents and regulations that requires landowners, farmers and communities to put the health of our waterways first.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (NES-F) contains rules to regulate activities that affect freshwater.

The Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020 set out rules for excluding different types of stock from our waterways with a three metre minimum setback.

The Measurement and Reporting of Water Takes Amendment Regulations 2020 requires consent holders that take between five and more than 20 litres of water a second to measure their water use and keep records of it, and electronically submit these records to us daily.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM) provides local authorities with updated directions on how they should manage freshwater under the Resource Management Act 1991.

Visit the Farmers' Hub to find out more about the specific requirements under the Essential Freshwater package.

Te Mana o te Wai

At the heart of the new Essential Freshwater regulations is the concept and framework of Te Mana o te Wai.

Te Mana o te Wai recognises the vital importance of New Zealand’s freshwater, whose health is integral to the social, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of communities.

The Essential Freshwater regulations put the health and wellbeing of water before providing for human health needs, and then other uses.

We’re working with our partner Papatipu Rūnanga to build our understanding of Te Mana o te Wai in Waitaha/Canterbury.

Your feedback and questions

We welcome feedback on this advice and will note questions you would like answered. Please contact Customer Services at or 0800 324 636.

We may not be in a position to answer all questions immediately. However, we will come back to you with an indication of when an answer may become available or a redirection to where a suitable answer may be found.

Further information

Visit the Farmers' Hub to find out more about the specific requirements under the Essential Freshwater package.