Water and Land Working Party

Wednesday 8 December 2021 at 1:00pm





Water and Land Working Party

8 December 2021

Water and Land Working Party Agenda


Meeting to be held in the Council Chamber

36 Water Street, Whangārei

on Wednesday 8 December 2021, commencing at 1:00pm


Please note: working parties and working groups carry NO formal decision-making delegations from council. The purpose of the working party/group is to carry out preparatory work and discussions prior to taking matters to the full council for formal consideration and decision-making. Working party/group meetings are open to the public to attend (unless there are specific grounds under LGOIMA for the public to be excluded).


MEMBERSHIP OF THE Water and Land Working Party

Chairperson, Councillor Justin Blaikie

Councillor Jack Craw

Councillor Amy Macdonald

Councillor Marty Robinson

Councillor Joce Yeoman

Ex-Officio Penny Smart

TTMAC Representative Georgina Connelly

TTMAC Representative
Alan Riwaka

TTMAC Representative
Janelle Beazley

TTMAC Representative
Mira Norris





RĪMITI (ITEM)                                                                                                                                                                Page

1.0       Ngā Mahi Whakapai/Housekeeping

2.0       Ngā Whakapahā/apologies   

3.0       Ngā Whakapuakanga/declarations of conflicts of interest

4.0       Reports

4.1       Receipt of Action Sheet                                                                                                                             3

4.2       Overview of Dung Beetle releases by New Zealand councils                                                      5

4.3       Land Management Approach                                                                                                                  8

Water and Land Working Party                                                                                                                                  item: 4.1

8 December 2021



Receipt of Action Sheet


Kathryn Pabirowski, Regulatory Services Admin/PA

Authorised by Group Manager/s:

Colin Dall, Pou Whakaritenga - Group Manager Regulatory Services, on 02 December 2021


Whakarāpopototanga / Executive summary

The purpose of this report is to enable the meeting to receive the current action sheet.


Nga mahi tutohutia / Recommendation

That the action sheet be received.


Attachments/Ngā tapirihanga

Attachment 1: Actions - Water and Land Working Party   

Water and Land Working Party  ITEM: 4.1

8 December 2021Attachment 1

PDF Creator

Water and Land Working Party                                                                                                                                  item: 4.2

8 December 2021



Overview of Dung Beetle releases by New Zealand councils


Lorna Douglas, Land Manager

Authorised by Group Manager/s:

Jonathan Gibbard, Pou Tiaki Taiao – Group Manager Environmental Services, on 03 December 2021


Whakarāpopototanga / Executive summary

At the May 2021 Water and Land Working Party, staff were asked to outline what other councils (regional and unitary) have done regarding promoting or supporting dung beetle releases in their regions.  A review of four councils was undertaken and the information is provided below.


Ngā mahi tūtohutia / Recommended actions

1.         That the report Overview of Dung Beetle releases by New Zealand councils be received.



The table below briefly covers conversations with staff members.


Marlborough DC

Greater Wellington

Waikato RC

Gisborne DC

Supported releases

2019 in Wither Hills as part of MFE-funded project; part of wider project for specific at-risk catchments through FIF and PWR funding.

2019 pushed hard and got c.50 farms on board, this has reduced this year to 11.  Specifically promoted in Lake Wairarapa FMU; aiming for E.coli reduction in hotspot seven sub-catchments.

None.  They are supportive of farmer-led releases, but not high priority for council.

Initial two private releases 2018 (supported in principle rather than financially).

Funding support

$2K per pack - buying discounted packs from Dung Beetle Innovations (DBI) in bulk – takes price down to c.$5K.  Budget for 20 packs this year (i.e. $40K).  One pack covers approximately 300 cattle – smaller farms can share across neighbours or can get smaller packs.  Large farms buying two packs.

WRC buys discounted packs from DBI & offers their own $1800 (approximately) subsidy.



Buy in – take up by landowners

Biggest buy-in from dairy farm catchment – “significant” benefits.  [This is the opposite from what WRC said.] 

Promoted across whole catchment – i.e. ultimately a good spread across catchment.

Good – but needs good promotion, doesn’t work well promoting through industry.

Limited across region that staff member was aware of.  “Doesn’t work for dairy farms – works better for beef.”



Dr Shaun Forgie very passionate and persuasive and farmers hearing him talk are more interested. 

Farmer involved in 2019 release seeing activity now on farm.  Farmers can work together to share packs if appropriate.

Farmers around Lake W. catchment keen on them… wide range of benefits, not just reduced bacteria in water quality.

Main benefit is reduced E. coli – e.g. potentially good for reducing E.coli impact on overland flow paths.  Could be noted as intent to improve water quality issues in new farm plan, but no evidence of true impact.

Unknown, except from suggestions from Landcare Research report.


None really discussed.

A lot of international research has been done on benefits, but not in NZ.

Too expensive ($6K/pack) in the climate of all other regulation and implementation needs; too little empirical evidence of usefulness; not necessarily of benefit to no issue in Waikato.

As above.

Research/ monitoring

No monitoring being done yet.

WRC starting monitoring success/spread in their release areas this year, will become an annual focus.  Methodology provided: focusing on which species are establishing and how far they are spreading.


None since 2018 Envirolink research:  https://envirolink.govt.nz/assets/Envirolink/Reports/1828-GSDC147-Evaluation-of-the-effectiveness-of-dung-beetles-in-improving-the-environmental-health-of-land-and-rivers-within-Tairawhiti.pdf



Implications for Northland

Although deployment of dung beetles to farms appears likely to provide some positive environmental benefit, there is a lack of New Zealand based research into their effectiveness.  It is therefore not clear whether the investment support for dung beetles would bring about tangible environmental benefits when compared to proven ways to support landowners in Northland to improve sustainability practices on their land as presently supported by the Environment Fund.


Moreover, landowners are facing significant pressure to become compliant with a suite of new government regulation, and it is likely these pressures will be the focus of on-farm investment in the coming years – meaning uptake of non-regulatory sustainability initiatives is likely to be limited.


With the above taken into account, it is recommended that the prospect of NRC support for the release of dung beetles as land management treatment is not pursued at this time; and that this matter is revisited once the regulatory changes affecting farmers are bedded in.


Ngā tapirihanga / Attachments



Water and Land Working Party                                                                                                                                  item: 4.3

8 December 2021



Land Management Approach


Jonathan Gibbard, Pou Tiaki Taiao – Group Manager Environmental Services and Ruben Wylie, Land Management Programme Manager

Authorised by Group Manager/s:

Jonathan Gibbard, Pou Tiaki Taiao – Group Manager Environmental Services, on 01 December 2021


Whakarāpopototanga / Executive summary

Significant and ongoing changes have occurred at the national level and on the ground that have led to the need for council to review the current focus of its land management activities and services.  To date the land team has focused on working with those who have proactively approached council for support and towards fencing of waterways.  With new regulatory requirements coming and new digital tools available it is timely and appropriate for council to reconsider how it best targets and prioritises the allocation of its limited resources.


This paper sets out staff recommendations for reprioritising the land team’s delivery model, with the aim to provide greater emphasis on priority environmental outcomes.  Key proposed changes include:


·    The development of a prioritisation framework, based on scientific evidence and greater use of current and future digital tools, to guide work effort of land management advisors.

·    A change to the Efund criteria to enable a broader suite of priority mitigation options.

·    Changes to the Efund delivery model to better reflect landowner capacity and capability, for example by allowing for multi-year projects.

·    Changes to the decision making process for Efunds to improve efficiency and to give applicants greater certainty.

·    A transition for existing NRC led priority catchment groups to become autonomous groups and thus enable the team to dedicate its resources to supporting a larger number of tangata whenua, catchment groups and landowners in hotspots identified as part of the prioritisation framework.

·    Criteria for the tangata whenua and catchment group funding support set down from years 2022/2023 of the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.

·    Greater support and advice for industry led sector groups.

·    Broader and stronger proactive education and advocacy of new freshwater management regime.


This paper seeks the Water and Land Working Party feedback on the proposed new approach for the land management team ahead of broader discussions with council on 14 December.


Ngā mahi tūtohutia / Recommended actions

1.         That the report “New Land Management Approach”, written by Ruben Wylie, Land Management Programme Manager and Jonathan Gibbard, GM Environmental Services, dated 8 December 2021, be received.

2.         That the Water and Land Working Party, provide feedback to staff prior to the paper being presented to the full council workshop on 14 December 2021.



The land management team has been providing advice and support to landowners to enable them to achieve improved environmental outcomes on their land for many years.  Traditionally this work has concentrated on working with individual landowners in an advisory capacity, with a core focus directed towards supporting the preparation of Farm Environment Plans, the delivery of the Environment Fund (EFund) grants to fence off waterways and delivering soil conservation treatments, including the establishment and operation of a poplar and willow nursery.


The land management team’s delivery model is generally based on working with landowners that proactively make contact with council to seek advice and support towards improving land management practices.  This model has resulted in a strong uptake of farm environment plans and Efund grants, in addition to the development of good working relationships with landowners and sector groups.  However, the approach lacks the structure needed to target resourcing towards environmental priorities.  This lack of prioritisation means there are significant opportunities to optimise the way the team directs its resourcing to maximise environmental benefit and to better align its work focus with the strategic directions of council and the changing national regulatory environment.

Drivers and Objectives

There are several key drivers that directly influence the land management team mahi.  At a fundamental level, the purpose of the regional council is, amongst other things, to manage freshwater quality and the health of the aquatic ecosystems within it.

Te Pae Tawhiti, Council’s Vision, includes Healthy Waters for the environment and our people as a key focus area for the organisation, with the following goals as key contributors to achieving this:

·    By 2024, a refocused landowner advice and grant funding scheme is in place targeting highly erodible land and protecting our sensitive environments such as dune lakes, wetlands and estuaries.

·    By 2031, one-third of Northland’s high-risk, erosion-prone land is under soil conservation management.

·    By 2051, all of Northland’s high-risk, erosion-prone land is under soil conservation management and Northland is a leader in sustainable land use and water management practices.

The Regional Policy Statement for Northland recognises that elevated contaminants in freshwater bodies, estuaries, and harbours, mainly from diffuse run-off and leaching from land used for primary production, is a key issue for Northland.

Finally, council’s 2021-2031 Long Term Plan includes a focus on improved water quality, with a particular emphasis on the provision of advice and funding to support sustainable land management.  The land management team has a significant role to play in delivering on that work focus, particularly when it comes to fostering meaningful relationships and partnerships with iwi and hapū, landowners and catchment groups – these will be key to improving our region’s freshwater quality because achieving that objective is not something council can do alone.

Guiding Objectives

The following objectives are set out to provide an overarching guide to the review and changes for the land management team:

1.            Water quality in Te Taitokerau is improved through the provision of land management services and funding in areas that will benefit most from these services.

2.            The land management team supports and empowers tangata whenua, landowners and catchment groups to achieve their long-term aspirations for freshwater quality.

3.            Environment grant funding supports a prioritised range of environmental improvement initiatives that achieve multiple environmental benefits.

The changing regulatory environment

Fresh Water Farm Plans

Part 9A of the Resource Management Act 1991 includes requirements for farmers and growers to have a Freshwater Farm Plan in place.  The timing, and specific content, of these plans will be subject to regulations that the Government is in the process of developing.  The Freshwater Farm Plans are in effect a regulatory tool that are tailored to each farm, setting out actions required to address the risks of farming activities on freshwater quality.


In light of the requirement of Part 9A, it was decided that the Land Management Team would stop preparing Farm Environment Plans because it was viewed as a duplication of process.  MfE has clearly signalled that it intends for the delivery of freshwater farms plans to be largely undertaken by the private sector, with the role of regional councils being limited to information provision, setting the overall catchment context and priorities, collecting and reporting on information relating to farm plans and enforcement of non-compliance.


With the removal of the FEP process, the team has shifted to a streamlined soil conservation plan process to support the delivery of MPI funded soil conservation programme (SHaRP).  In addition, although the freshwater farm plan process is likely to be largely delivered by the private sector, it is expected that the land team will play a role supporting the sector to implement the regulations and give effect to the actions contained in farm plans.


NPS-FM – Action Plans

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM) is part of the Government’s Essential Freshwater Package and sets out how regional councils are to manage freshwater.  Central to the NPS-FM process is the development of a vision for freshwater, identifying values, setting environmental objectives and targets for freshwater.  A key mechanism for achieving these targets is the requirement to prepare action plans.  These plans can specify both regulatory and non-regulatory (such as work plans and partnership arrangements with tangata whenua and catchment groups) measures.  While at the moment the specific scale, scope and status of action plans needs further guidance from government, our current intention is that these action plans are developed in parallel with the Water Plan Change, which Land Management Advisors (LMA’s) will contribute to.  The land management team will then play a central role in supporting the future delivery of non-regulatory measures specified in agreed actions plans.


Stock Exclusion

The Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020 and the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland include requirements to exclude stock from waterways.  Traditionally the grant funding (EFund) provided to landowners has focused predominantly on supporting landowners exclude stock from waterways.  With stock exclusion across a significant part of Northland to become a statutory requirement, it is timely to reconsider whether grant funding should be provided to landowners to meet regulatory requirements or be reprioritised to encourage and support other priority non-regulatory interventions (see recommendations later in this report).


Existing commitments

Although it has been identified that change is needed to align the Land Team’s work focus with the current national and regional direction, the team has several major commitments that will affect timing for our transition to the prioritisation framework set down later in this document.  Key commitments are set out below.


Waimā Waitai Waiora (WWW)

The WWW project has funding until the end of the 2021/2022 financial year.  The project represents the culmination of a partnership between Kaipara mana whenua, community organisations and council.  The partnership arrangement has given rise to some significant advancements in the way in which council works with mana whenua to deliver tangible outcome on the ground.  There have, however, also been some challenges including ensuring all partners are on the same page, high turnover of project staff and communication with MfE.  The delivery of the final year of the project will be a key focus, however, staff resourcing will continue to be a challenge.  Conversations are ongoing within the partnership as to what the future will be post 2021/2022 FY.  If the partnership is to continue, indications are that it will most likely be under a different delivery model and new funding will need to be sought, potentially from KMR or MfE (although there is currently no funding stream to apply to).


SHaRP (year 2 of 4)

SHaRP is in year two of a four-year programme, finishing in mid-2023.  Broadly SHaRP is a $6M programme that provides funding for soil conservation initiatives on highly erodible land, including afforestation (exotic and indigenous), soil conservation planting and land retirement.  The programme requires a major resourcing commitment from Land Management Advisors to deliver on the targets for Soil Conservation Plans.  These targets were initially developed at a time when NRC were providing Farm Environment Plans to landowners.


Since those plans ceased being developed, the land management team has developed a Soil Conservation Plan process which takes the place of Farm Environment Plans, but focuses on soil conservation and providing a platform where landowners can gain access to SHaRP funded soil conservation treatments.  The total targeted area of farms with new soil conservation plans for this financial year is 34,000ha or a total of 136 soil conservation plans (whichever is met first).  Delivering on this target will require roughly the same resourcing as what was required for Farm Environment Plans.  The same target is required over the 2022/2023 financial year.  Although the content of the plan is much lighter than FEPs, the volume of plans that require delivery is much higher.  Accordingly, it is estimated that the resourcing requirements for the soil conservation target is roughly equivalent to the resourcing historically dedicated to FEP delivery.


Kaipara Moana Remediation Programme

The land management team contributes to NRC’s in kind (~$200k/annually) support for the Kaipara Moana Remediation programme.  This is captured mainly by land management staff (primarily 1 FTE at this point) working in the Waiotu area and completing the first year fencing grants.  In addition, the land management team is working alongside KMR and Auckland Council to ensure KMR’s deliverables are regionally consistent and add value to the entire region.



Environment Fund and Soil Conservation Grants

Over the 2021/2022 year, the Land Management Team will need to support the delivery of $1,100,000 of grant funding, in addition to the supply of poplar and willow poles across Northland.  The Efund made up of Efund grants and land treatment grants for soil conservation (including retirement fencing and afforestation).  In addition, in 2022/2023, the team will be responsible for delivering a further $300,000 in funding to support catchment groups.

Future prioritisation framework

It is proposed to develop a prioritisation framework based on existing geospatial datasets as a basis for prioritising the work effort/focus of the team.  The principal being that land areas with multiple overlapping criteria should be subject to greater work effort and targeted engagement in a bid to gain better uptake of Efund grants in those areas.  By focusing effort in these “Hotspot” areas it can be expected that environmental benefits of the land management advice and grant funding will be optimised.


It should be noted that KMR is in the process of developing a suite of digital tools which are expected to bring about significant efficiencies for farm planning and grant funding.  In addition, KMR is developing high resolution geospatial datasets to provide a strong evidential basis to support individual farm mitigation approaches.  Although the principal reason for these initiatives is to support the effective delivery of the KMR work programme, both NRC and Auckland Council are working alongside KMR to ensure the development and these tools and data sets can be applied across the regions.  It can therefore be expected that the geospatial datasets used for the prioritisation framework will change as better information is developed.  While it is not expected that new information will change the fundamental principles of the prioritisation approach outlined below, the new high resolution data will allow for higher degrees of confidence when it comes to developing farm specific and targeted mitigation responses to improve water quality.


The proposed geospatial criteria for the prioritisation framework are set out in Table 1 below.  Note these are indicative at the time of writing and changes will likely be required as the framework is developed.


Table 1.         Proposal datasets for multi-criteria prioritisation framework.




SedNet and Physiographics inherent sediment generation potential

This dataset provides the results of an erosion model that predicts the generation and transport of sediment through river networks.  The model outputs can be used as a proxy for predicting erosion risk and find sediment in waterbodies.

Outstanding lakes and rivers

These are freshwater bodies (lakes and rivers) that the Northland Regional Council has identified as having outstanding values and that require a high degree of protection under the regional plan.

Top Wetlands

305 of Northland’s highest value, currently mapped, wetlands were ranked using a number of weighted criteria including size, representativeness, threatened species, diversity, integrity and LENZ category.  In total 154 wetlands scored 50 or more out of 100 and these are listed as the region’s Top Wetlands.

Recreational bathing sites

These are point data depicting the location of recreational bathing sites monitored as part of the Recreational Swimming Water Quality Programme.  This layer is used as a proxy for depicting the most popular swimming sites in Northland.

Water supply catchments

These are the catchments located upstream of intakes for public or community water supply schemes.  Fine sediment can present a major risk to water supply schemes because it can reduce the effectiveness of water treatment plants.  Given over half the Northland region relays on treated water supply schemes, improving water quality in these catchments is considered an appropriate prioritisation criteria.

Biodiversity ranking – top 30% rivers and streams

This dataset provides the relative ranking of the biodiversity values derived from a ranking analysis of indigenous-dominated freshwater ecosystems for the Northland Region.  The dataset provides the location of top 30% rivers and streams in terms of biodiversity values and is a useful tool to identifying where to prioritise work effort to maximise biodiversity outcomes.

Degraded waterbodies based on modelled MCI and turbidity

Provides model-based predictions for various water quality attributes.  This dataset will identify streams with predicted values below the national bottom line (attribute Band D) for MCI and turbidity.  MCI is the key ecological health predictor and turbidity is a proxy for fine sediment, which the leading contaminant in Northland waterways.

Degraded waterbodies based on E.coli, but only in water bodies upstream of recreational bathing sites

This data provides model-based predictions for E.coli.  This data set will identify predicted E.coli values below the national bottom line and where the river segments are located of recreational bathing sites.


The development and refinement of prioritisation criteria and implementation processes will need to be iterative.  A coarse stack of layers (as outlined in Table 1) will initially be used to visually assess initial workability and obtain feedback of options for relative importance of each criteria before completing the multi-criteria overly analysis.  This analysis will apply relative importance weighting to the data and output an image depicting hotspots where work effort should be concentrated to maximise environmental benefit.


It is also proposed that the focus of the land management team, and allocation of the Efund, be directed to catchments outside of the Kaipara catchment.  This is on the basis that a proportion of the Efund ($300,000) has been allocated to the KMR programme, as part of the larger NRC financial contribution to the KMR programme.  It should, however, be noted that this does not mean that councils land management team will not be active in the Kaipara catchment, or that Efund will not be allocated into that catchment, but rather that land management activities and grant fund allocations would be focused on activities that are not otherwise being progressed by KMR to ensure there is no duplication and that priority is given to the rest of the region not able to benefit from the significant work KMR is delivering for landowners in the Kaipara catchment.

Revised Efund Mitigation Options

In conjunction with the prioritisation framework, changes to the Efund criteria are required to support a wider variety of land mitigations and to reflect changes in the statutory requirements that are being placed on landowners.


It is recommended that a first principal of the revised Efund criteria is that grant funding should not be made available to co-fund landowners meeting their legal requirements under the freshwater reforms.  Specifically, regulated stock exclusion requirements from both wetlands and rivers should not be funded unless under exceptional circumstances.  It should be noted that a shift of this nature has major implications for the Efund because it is presently utilised primarily as a means of subsidising stock exclusion from river margins.  It is for this reason that it is proposed that the revised Efund criteria does not fully come into effect until the beginning of the 2023-2024 financial year.  This will enable a transition from the current criteria to the new criteria for the 2022-2023 financial year, with the priority given to the new criteria but also allowing allocations (based on the old criteria) where funding allows.


Dates and timing for the new regulatory requirements are summarised in Appendix 1.


Proposed mitigation approaches that could be considered under a revised Efund approach is set out in Table 2 below.


Table 2.         Proposed Efund mitigation approaches




Erosion treatment

Sediment from erosion on farmland is a major contaminant in Northland’s waterways.  Erosion treatment options such as poplar pole planting, retirement fencing, and afforestation are potentially important mitigation options for improving water quality.

Stock exclusion from hill country wetlands

Wetlands located on hill country land do not require stock to be excluded through the proposed water reforms.  Despite this, hill country wetlands can play an important role for reducing sediment loss and enhancing biodiversity and carbon sequestration.  Supporting landowners to maintain and protect hill country wetlands is therefore considered an appropriate mitigation approach.

Wetland creation and enhancement

Landowners will be required to exclude stock from most lowland wetlands that exceed 500 m² in area.  Exclusion of stock from significant natural wetlands less than 500 m² should still be considered.  In addition, there are likely to be opportunities to enhance wetlands through pest plant control and planting.  Moreover, Northland has lost many of its wetlands through drainage.  New wetland creation through fencing and returning water tables back to natural levels may be an appropriate means of enabling wetlands to be created and thus start to reverse the current trend of wetland loss.

Stock exclusion that exceeds the statutory requirements

Stock exclusion that exceeds the statutory requirements (for example substantially exceeding the buffer between the stream bank and the fence line) could provide enhanced environmental benefits over statutory requirements.

Biodiversity enhancement adjacent to or within outstanding waterbodies or top 30% ranked rivers

Biodiversity enhancement activities can have major flow on effects to improve stream health.  Improve biodiversity within riparian margins can support a more diverse, resilient and intact stream ecosystem.  Key mitigation options could include riparian planting, pest plant control and improved management of fish passage.


Given planting can be costly compared to other mitigation options, it is proposed that planting is limited to outstanding waterbodies, top 150 wetlands and to the 30% top ranked stream segments for biodiversity.  In doing biodiversity enhancement, projects will be targeted to sites that will benefit most from the biodiversity improvements.


Revised criteria are a significant departure from the current model, and it should be noted that, if applied immediately, would initially result in the Efund being undersubscribed because it will involve more novel mitigation approaches and working with landowners through targeted engagement at hotspot locations rather than working with willing landowners that proactivity make contact with NRC.  In recognition of the change from working with the willing, to being more targeted, changes to NRC’s current level of financial contributions to mitigation options may need to be considered if Efund uptake is limited.  Doing this may result in a reduction in the number of projects traditionally funded.  However, it should be noted that cost to benefit ratio should, on average, be greater as a result of targeting environmental hotspots rather than leaving it to willing landowners to determine the grant locations.

Efund application assessment approach

It is proposed that Efund grant applications are assessed using a weighted scoring similar to a multi-criteria analysis (MCA).  An MCA enables the assessment of qualitative criteria in an objective and collaborative way by ranking projects relative to an agreed set of criteria and assigning each criteria agreed weightings that reflect their relative importance to achieving the project objective.


The current process involves the land management team providing analysis and recommendations for grant allocation with final decisions on Efund allocations being made by the council Chair.  It is proposed that council sets the assessment criteria and weighting, and approves a tiered approach to decisions on grant applications as follows:


1.            Applications below $10,000 – which are consistent with the approved criteria, are assessed by staff and recommendations referred to a panel of senior staff for a decision.

2.            Applications between $10,000 - $50,000 – which are consistent with the approved criteria, are assessed by staff and recommendations referred to the Chairperson for a decision.

3.            Applications that exceed $50,000 and/or are inconsistent with the approved criteria, are to be assessed by staff and recommendations referred to full council for a decision.


By having clear criteria, it enables a clearer application process, with applications specifically addressing the criteria against which they will be assessed.  The benefits of the proposed revised approach are that it enables council to set the strategic direction in respect of the grant funding awards, whilst the operational work associated with assessing and decision making on application is undertaken through an efficient and effective process.  Any applications advanced that are outside the agreed criteria (or exceed a particular financial threshold) would require a council decision.


Potential initial criteria, for future council approval, are proposed in Table 3 below.



Table 3.         Proposed Efund assessment criteria.


Assessment Criteria



Demonstrated collaboration with neighbouring properties

Extent to which the project takes into account the wider catchment and demonstrated collaboration with neighbouring properties or landowners within the same catchment.


Benefits to improved water quality

The extent to which the project will contribute to improved water within the catchment in the long-term taking into account the critical issues identified in the prioritisation framework.  For example: if fine sediment is an issue in the catchment, how will the mitigation approach reduce fine sediment.


Extent to which the project meets wider environmental objectives

How will the project support the mitigation of other environmental issues?  For example, will the project have co-benefits associated with increase climate resilience, improved biodiversity, improved coastal management, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, pest control.


Extent to which the project supports social or cultural wellbeing

Extent to which the project meets the objectives and values of the wider community and/or mana whenua.  For example, is the project consistent with the wider catchment goals of the community, is the project supported by mana whenua; is it specifically identified as a priority by marae, hapū or iwi and does it enhance their cultural values, interests and associations.


Tangata whenua and catchment group funding criteria

During deliberations on the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, council approved the following extra funding for catchment management: $311,000 in 2022/2023 and $500,000 each year following to support tangata whenua and catchment groups work in catchments across the region.  The criteria to allocate this additional funding is yet to be confirmed.  Based on discussions held during deliberations, it is assumed the funding is to be utilised outside the KMR catchment and is to be utilised to support tangata whenua, communities and catchment groups to deliver on desired catchment outcomes.


It is proposed that this fund is utilised as a means of empowering and resourcing catchment groups, communities, marae, hapū and iwi to operate autonomously to deliver on their long-term catchment goals.  This approach acknowledges that NRC is one of many funding providers that can support a catchment management kaupapa, and that in many cases, placing an overreliance on NRC to lead such catchment processes can bind the groups to having to operate within the staff resourcing and financial planning constraints of council.


With the above taken into account, it is proposed that funding is made available to build capacity and capability with tangata whenua and catchment groups to plan, gain funding for and implement multiyear catchment improvement initiatives.  Other proposed funding initiatives include training, support for kaitiaki, and equipment critical to supporting catchment management.


Proposed eligible funding projects are outlined in Table 4 below.


Table 4.         Proposed eligible catchment funding projects




Professional services

This would include professional services for the following:

·    To support the development of catchment management plans and grant funding applications.

·    Technical work to support prioritisation of mitigation investment approaches.

·    GIS analysis and mapping

Plant and equipment

Plant and equipment critical to delivering mitigation approaches (this will need to be carefully thought through to enable grant flexibility to support catchment groups while ensuring that all funding is not absorbed by expensive plant and equipment costs).

Engagement and awareness

Approaches to improve awareness and build understanding and engagement amongst the wider community in respect of the catchment work underway.  This includes initial work to build relationship between industries, landowners, hapū and marae to share values and aspirations.

Support for Kaitiaki engagement

Support for both engagement with kaitiaki and for kaitiaki to engage with one another in order to articulate catchment values.


Support for catchment group members to develop skills directly linked with the catchment management initiatives.  Training could include:

·    Technical aspects associated mitigation options e.g. planting, wetland management;

·    Upskilling in critical technical skills e.g. simple GIS.

·    Water quality monitoring using community toolkits.

On the ground mahi

This would include the same mitigation measure identified in Table 2 available for Efund support for individual landowners.  This work would be for the catchment group to award.  It is proposed that the criteria for this follow the same criteria for the Efund, including the timing and transitional arrangements.  Greater flexibility may be required, especially initially, so that funding can support what tangata whenua and catchment groups want to deliver.


In order to ensure the funding is allocated appropriately, it is proposed that all applications must demonstrate that there is collaboration between landowners/community groups or marae/hapū within the catchment with a view to working together to improve water quality in the long term.


As for criteria for ranking funding applications, these are proposed to be the same as those contained in Table 3.

Factoring in existing NRC priority catchment groups

NRC has worked with communities in several ‘priority’ catchments in Northland to develop catchment plans to better manage freshwater.  The catchment specific provisions contained in the Proposed Regional Plan for Northland are an outcome of the collaborative planning processes.  Whilst the priority catchment groups have enabled NRC to engage with stakeholders with an interest in their catchment, the groups have been led and resourced by the NRC, which has proven to require substantial staff time to ensure the groups run effectively.  Moreover, each of the five catchment groups are awarded $10,000 per annum to invest in catchment initiatives within their respective catchment areas.  There are presently no investment criteria for this funding and allocations currently require an LMA to identify a project and manage the delivery.


Ultimately the catchment groups have the potential for high resourcing costs relative to the geographic areas they cover.  With that in mind, it is proposed that the priority catchment groups are supported to transition (if they want to) to becoming autonomous and self-governing.  If they do not, then the groups will need to wind up.  In addition, it will ensure that the funding they are seeking is considered against the merits of catchment initiatives across the region, and against other similar catchment group proposals, and thus making sure funds are allocated in a way that maximises benefit.


Delivering on the existing major work streams, along with significant numbers of staff leaving, limits the immediate ability of the team to transition into a fully operational reprioritised focus.  A high-level work plan that sets out the key tasks and associated timing for bringing about better alignment with a prioritised approach is provided in Figure 1 below.


The below work programme has been developed taking into account the Team’s existing work commitment.  The proposal is for the revised work focus and funding criteria to be established early 2022 and that the 2022/2023 year acts as a transitional phase, with the new criteria coming into full effect in the 2023/2024 year.  The reason for this is in part due to resourcing constraints within the team, taking into account our existing work commitment.  In addition, the 2022/2023 transitional period will allow a good lead in time for land management advisers to work with landowners around the new funding criteria, minimising the risk undersubscription of grant funding.


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Figure 1.           Land management team 2021/2022 programme for transitioning to a catchment based focus


Ngā tapirihanga / Attachments

Attachment 1: NPS-FM Implementation  


Water and Land Working Party  ITEM: 4.3

8 December 2021Attachment 1

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