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Auckland Council

Wai Ora-Healthy Waterways

Wai Ora-Oranga Rerenga Wai

​What the programme is about

Some of our water resources and habitats are degrading due to urban growth and land management practices that discharge contaminants to our waters.

Our response to this problem is the Wai Ora – Healthy Waterways Programme.

We established Wai Ora to implement the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) in Auckland.

Wai Ora aims to:

  • foster a community that cares for our freshwater and coastal environments
  • address Auckland’s complex water issues by building on what has already been done.
  • meet the Unitary Plan objective on protecting and enhancing freshwater systems and coastal areas.

National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM) 

The NPSFM requires regional councils and local authorities to protect freshwater ecosystems by managing:

  • discharge of contaminants: sediment, faeces, nutrients, litter and heavy metals
  • water supply and allocation
  • land development.

Requirements of the NPSFM

The NPSFM requires local authorities to:

  • maintain or improve the quality of freshwater within their region
  • set limits on resource use (e.g. how much of a contaminant can be released)
  • find methods to meet objectives and limits
  • protect freshwater’s ability to support life, ecosystem processes and indigenous species
  • protect the health of people in recreational water activities
  • identify the values that tāngata whenua and communities have for water
  • involve iwi and hapū in decision-making and management of freshwater
  • set targets for swimmability.

The NPSFM must be fully implemented by 31 December 2025.

An NPSFM implementation programme was adopted in December 2015, but was replaced in 2018 with an updated version to accommodate changes to the NPSFM and the Auckland Unitary Plan.

​What we are doing

Our work includes:

  • upgrading stormwater infrastructure
  • supporting riverbank planting programmes
  • facilitating community group activities investigating sources of contamination.

Integrated Watershed planning

A watershed is an area that drains to a body of water (e.g. the land draining to a stream).

Wai Ora has divided Auckland into 10 watersheds.

We have started delivering a staged approach to managing each watershed:

  1. Mapping the current state and key issues for each watershed.
  2. Determining how to achieve the objectives and consulting the community.
  3. Developing action plans to meet objectives, limits and targets set in collaboration with key stakeholders.

We expect to complete stage three by 2020.

Community engagement

Engagement related to the NPSFM focuses on collaborating with key stakeholders, council-controlled organisations and mana whenua.

We will continue to work with industries such as rural industry organisations in:

  • reducing impacts on freshwater
  • developing potential future interventions.


We will study a robust evidence base before making any decisions on regulatory and non-regulatory interventions.

We will use a range of tools to inform our decisions, including:

  • local and international data
  • focused investigations
  • scenario modelling.

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