FAQ People, Water and Land

People, Water and Land programme - Te Mana o te Tangata, te Wai, te Whenua

Q: What is the People Water and Land programme?

A: The programme is about taking the next steps to improve Southland’s water and land. It is a partnership with Te Ao Marama Inc. (as the environmental arm of Ngai Tahu ki Murihiku) and takes a ‘mountains to the sea approach: ki uta ki tai’. The programme’s vision is ‘inspiring change to improve Southland’s water and land’.

People, Water and Land will mean having community-led conversations and discussions about how you value water. Understanding more about the communities’ values and objectives will give us the information we need to take the best practical steps to improve our water and land.

On-ground action is critical to improving our water and land and to ensure our communities are resilient. We have complex and challenging issues to work through. But with a considered, step by step approach, we aim to achieve the best outcome for Southland and future generations.

The values and objectives will also help inform the regulatory process, which includes setting limits to manage freshwater by 2025, as required by central government under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Q: What are the components/parts of the People Water and Land programme?

A: The People, Water and Land programme is focused on three areas of activity (or workstreams).

  • A focus on specific catchments and on-the-ground action to provide practical steps to improve our water and land, to learn and share information from these examples;
  • Engaging Southlanders in conversations about values and objectives, listening and sharing information about our environment and communities;
  • Establishing a regional forum that will advise Council on the methods to achieve the community’s aspirations/objectives for freshwater (including limits). The forum will be a feedback loop for Southland communities, both listening to them and sharing information from the regional forum.

Q: How will it be implemented?

A: Significant work is already underway especially with on-ground action. People are working hard to improve their land use practices, for example in the Waituna and Aparima catchments. This work is at the heart of improving our water and land and creating more resilient communities. We will support these initiatives and share the learnings with the wider community.

In the recent months, there have been community-led conversations and discussions about how you value water. You can continue to join in the conversations—Southlanders are 'in the driving seat' when it comes to the future of their water.

A regional forum has been established with the aim of strongly reflecting Southland’s situation and its characteristics. We want the regional forum to provide robust representation for Southlanders. Click here to read more about this group.

Q: When can we get involved, and how?

A: We want to hear your views about what you think about Southland’s water resources, how you value them and how we can look after them better.

There will be some key times when you can get involved in conversations about Southland’s water resources, which we’ve highlighted on the timeline above. These may include coming along to a local community meeting, joining an online conversation, participating in a survey, or talking with one of Environment Southland’s team.

As the People, Water and Land programme progresses we’ll let you know about opportunities when you can have your say and share your ideas.

Register to stay informed of these opportunities at, or sign up to the newsletter at

Q: Is this process like the zone process in Canterbury?

A: We have moved away from a catchment-by-catchment approach to limit-setting, which is what was established in Canterbury, and will establish a regional forum as a community link and advisory group. We will still however work closely with community groups and freshwater management units as we recognise that specific catchment areas or freshwater management units (FMU) are likely to have distinctive characteristics that create unique challenges any may require different solutions. There’ll be more information provided over the coming months about how this will happen.