FAQ Values and objectives
Values and Objectives
What is the Values and Objectives workstream?
The Values and Objective workstream is a 2-year programme by Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama Inc to determine Southlanders' values and aspirations for freshwater and estuaries. This workstream will provide direction for a future plan change to the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan by determining Southlanders’ values and setting draft environmental outcomes. It will also be used to inform other work programmes in the freshwater management space.
What direction has been provided?
In November 2020 Environment Southland’s Council and the Te Ao Marama Board indicated the desired future environmental state for freshwater and estuaries to be achieved within a generation (25-30 years).
This desired future state is outlined in a set of draft environmental outcomes (freshwater objectives) intended to give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. The outcomes will remain draft as limits and methods to achieve them and the associated implications (social, economic, cultural and environmental) are worked through over the next two to three years. Communities will be engaged and consulted as part of this process.
The draft environmental outcomes will inform on-ground action and a plan change to the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan, which will contain the final set of outcomes, as well as short to medium term steps for achieving this. It is intended that the plan change will be notified by the end of 2023.
How will we achieve these outcomes?
Getting the improvements we all want for our water will take time, but important change is already underway.
While we all want rapid improvement, we know that positive change takes time. We will achieve the outcomes (objectives) we have for water over a generation (25-30 years). We’ll establish steps or ‘bite sized chunks’ to get make sure we’re heading in the right direction.
What is the role of the Regional Forum?
The Regional Forum is a community-based group which will provide advice to Environment Southland’s Council and Te Ao Marama Board on methods to achieve the direction set (including limits – abstractions from and discharges to waterbodies) over the next two years. Council and Te Ao Marama remain the decision makers. The Forum is scheduled to complete its work by the end of 2022. There will be opportunities to look at the methods and implications and provide feedback as they are developed over the coming two years. It is intended that the plan change will be notified by the end of 2023.
What is Te Mana o te Wai?
Te Mana o te Wai refers to the vital importance of water. Te Mana o te Wai is a concept that encompasses several different aspects of the integrated and holistic health and well-being of a waterbody. When Te Mana o te Wai is given effect, the water body will sustain the full range of environmental, social, cultural and economic values held by iwi and the community. The concept is expressed in te reo Maori, but applies to freshwater management for and on behalf of the whole community. It is the fundamental concept underpinning the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM). The NPS-FM specifies that every regional council must give effect to Te Mana o te Wai and apply the following hierarchy of obligations:
- the health and well-being of waterbodies and freshwater ecosystems
- the health needs of people (such as drinking water)
- the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being, now and in the future.
What does Te Mana o te Wai mean for our community?
The meaning of Te Mana o te Wai is different for each community, being based on their unique relationship with freshwater in their area or rohe.
The Values and Objectives work uses the concept of hauora as a way to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai in Southland/Murihiku. Hauora refers to the well-being or health of a waterbody, the environment around it and the people who interact with it. It includes the waterbody’s ability to take a knock and bounce back (resilience). This means waterbodies free of pollution, rubbish and odour that contain a diverse range of healthy ecosystems including native species. It also means waterbodies that are safe for people to play in and to practice mahinga kai and food gathering in and around.
Are the environmental outcomes final?
The direction that has been provided for water in Southland will remain indicative for the next two years. During this time work will be done to consider how to achieve the outcomes (limits and methods) and their implications. This is part of the iterative process set out by the NPS-FM. There will be opportunities to look at the limits, methods and implications and provide feedback as they are developed over the coming two years.
The plan change to the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan is intended to be notified by the end of 2023 and will set out the final outcomes, along with the proposed path forward, including interim steps and timeframes. A staged approach to the next 25-30 years will need to be taken in order to see and measure improvements in our waterbodies.
Does giving effect to Te Mana o te Wai mean going back to natural state before European settlement?
The short answer is no.
We recognise the landscape has changed significantly since human (and especially European) arrival. Te Mana o te Wai is about achieving the needs of the water first then allowing for other uses. The draft environmental outcomes (freshwater objectives) aim to achieve the community’s values for water, the requirements of the NPS-FM and do it in a way that is the best fit for Southland.
Hauora can be thought of to mean fit, well, vigorous and robust. Waterbodies are at their most healthy and resilient in a largely unimpacted state (this is the top of the decision and hauora envelopes). With increased pressure, cumulatively and over time, waterbodies can shift from a state of healthy resilience into a degraded state that no longer supports natural processes, populations of species, or human activities and uses that were once associated with the waterbody.
Environment Southland’s Council and the Te Ao Marama Board have directed the Regional Forum to assess the implications of achieving the bottom of the hauora envelope within a generation (25-30 years) for all environmental outcomes. The bottom of the hauora envelope reflects a minimum level of healthy resilience while still providing for uses that support the health of people.
When and how will this impact me?
Any new rules and requirements will not have effect until a plan change is notified which is intended to be at the end of 2023. As outlined previously, the plan change will contain the final outcomes and short to medium term steps for achieving them. There will be opportunities to have input into the development of the plan change.
As well as affecting land use rules, the plan change will include new requirements for discharges to land and water such as stormwater, wastewater and industrial and commercial discharges. It will therefore directly or indirectly affect every person in Southland.