Here is where you can find information about the Northern Hill Country FMU.
The Northern Hill Country Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) stretches from the Onaero River catchment in the west, northeast to Mōhakatino and inland to the Waitara River catchment. Much of this landscape is covered in native forest, combined with a mixture of dry stock farming and exotic forestry. Urenui is the largest settlement in the FMU, with a population of around 500 people.
The Northern Hill Country is one of six proposed FMUs for Taranaki. The other five are the Volcanic Ring Plain, Pātea Catchment, Coastal Terraces, Waitara Catchment and Southern Hill Country. The Council is proposing to divide the region into those six FMUs to allow development of purpose-designed solutions for these areas. These areas have been identified as having water bodies of an appropriate scale for understanding and managing freshwater.
The Council is seeking the views of the community and tangata whenua on the six FMUs as this feedback will guide targets, limits and rules in the new Natural Resources Plan to ensure freshwater is managed effectively for the whole community.
The Council sought community feedback on the Northern Hill Country FMU as part of its Next Steps for Our Freshwater community conversation from September to October 2023 and produced a consultation document which contained options informed by feedback gathered from earlier conversations with iwi and the community. This document is below and provides a wealth of background information about the Northern Hill Country FMU.
The Council's next community consultation will be asking for your views on specific limits and targets across the six FMUs. This will be key as it will define the targets the Council develops in the Natural Resources Plan. The feedback will run in March to April 2024.
For further information, see the Technical Memorandum documents which provide detailed scientific information about various aspects of water quality and background documents about the Government's Essential Freshwater reforms package. There are also quick guides to the Essential Freshwater reforms and Te Mana o te Wai below.
The Government’s Essential Freshwater reform package aims to protect and improve our rivers, streams and wetlands to stop further degradation of freshwater, start making immediate improvements and reverse past damage to bring our waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.
The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020(external link) (NPS-FM 2020) sets out the policies and the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW)(external link) establishes the regulations to achieve this.
What this means for people in Taranaki is requirements are being set for those carrying out certain activities that pose risks to freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. Anyone carrying out these activities will need to comply with the standards and, in many cases, people need to apply for a resource consent from the Council to continue carrying out regulated activities.
All of this is underpinned by Te Mana o te Wai(external link) (the mana of the water). See below for further details.
Te Mana o te Wai(external link) refers to the fundamental importance of water and recognises that protecting the health of freshwater protects the health and well-being of the wider environment.
It is about restoring and preserving the balance between the water, the wider environment, and the community.
These principles will guide us to improve the health and well-being of our waterways within a generation. It requires us to re-evaluate our relationship with freshwater and place the health and well-being of water at the centre of our decision-making. By prioritising the health and well-being of freshwater we protect the health and well-being of our people, communities and our long-term economic wellbeing.
In Te Mana o Te Wai there is a hierarchy of obligations. This hierarchy means prioritising the health and well-being of water first. The second priority is the health needs of people (such as drinking water) and the third is the ability of people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being.
The six principles of Te Mana o Te Wai are:
Mana whakahaere: the power, authority, and obligations of tangata whenua to make decisions that maintain, protect, and sustain the health and well-being of, and their relationship with, freshwater.
Kaitiakitanga: the obligation of tangata whenua to preserve, restore, enhance, and sustainably use freshwater for the benefit of present and future generations.
Manaakitanga: the process by which tangata whenua show respect, generosity, and care for freshwater and for others.
Governance: the responsibility of those with authority for making decisions about freshwater to do so in a way that prioritises the health and well-being of freshwater now and into the future.
Stewardship: the obligation of all New Zealanders to manage freshwater in a way that ensures it sustains present and future generations.
Care and respect: the responsibility of all New Zealanders to care for freshwater in providing for the health of the nation.