Plan Change Tuatahi

Plan Change Tuatahi

We are developing a cohesive and practical plan to provide for hauora, the health and well-being of waterbodies, within a generation. We’re building on what’s already been done, and drawing together the latest environmental science, regional economic analysis, Ngāi Tahu mātauranga (knowledge) and input from Southlanders.

At the same time, we’re supporting and encouraging action on the ground to make rapid progress towards healthier lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, springs, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters.

Find out more about what you can do here.

Check out the timeline of what's already happened and what's still to come.

Developing the Southland Water and Land Plan

Work towards improving our water and land has been underway for some time.

We’ve had a planned programme of work since 2011, when the Government first set out expectations for improving water quality in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM). The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan was notified (made public) in 2016. This set a foundation for managing water and land in the region based on ki uta ki tai, Te Mana o te Wai and hauora, which is already guiding outcomes in the region.

The Proposed Southland Water and Land Plan seeks to address activities that are known to have a significant effect on water quality, such as land use intensification, urban discharges, wintering and stock access to waterways. This plan is currently going through the formal process of hearings and appeals.

For more information on the Southland Water and Land Plan, visit

Since the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan was notified in 2016, both the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and the process by which Environment Southland proposes to implement it have changed.

In 2020, an updated NPS-FM strengthened the foundations of Te Mana o te Wai, already woven into Southland's proposed plan.

Under the NPS-FM councils are required to work through a number of steps, including:

  • Identifying values and objectives for our waterbodies - what we want our water to be like, how we want to use the water
  • Assigning attributes so these values and objectives can be measured - we have to consider 22 different attributes, which are about the ability of the water to support healthy ecosystems; aquatic life and human health risks
  • Setting limits, targets and preferred methods by 2025 to manage activities in a way that restores our degraded waterbodies and maintains those that are in good health - rules for how our water is used or the state it should be in
  • Creating action plans to support communities to make change and meet these limits - ways to make sure as individuals, businesses and communities we improve our waterways
  • Engaging throughout these processes with tangata whenua and our communities - We want to hear from you.

Amending the proposed Plan - Plan Change Tuatahi (the first plan change)

The proposed Southland Water and Land Plan will need to be amended to include freshwater objectives/outcomes, limits and targets developed through the community and council process. It must also include policies and methods to achieve those limits, in accordance with the NPS-FM.

This update is known as Plan Change Tuatahi (first plan change), and will set limits, targets and methods (for discharges to and abstractions from waterways) that will help achieve hauora, a state of healthy resilience, for waterbodies. There will be an opportunity for public submissions to this plan in 2023/24 before it is finalised in 2025.