What are freshwater visions?

    Long term visions are community aspirations that help guide freshwater management in the region. These visions set out what freshwater in Southland could look like in the future. 

    In Southland, each Freshwater Management Unit has a vision and each vision has a set timeframe to be achieved by. Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama Inc (TAMI) decided on a generation of 25 years as a timeframe for every vision except for Fiordland and the Islands FMU. The Fiordland and the Islands FMU has a shorter timeframe as the state is better than the other FMUs.  

    Why do we need visions?

    Visions became a requirement for regional councils with the update to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) in 2020. We’ll be including visions into our Regional Policy Statement. The NPS-FM requires that visions: 

    • must be developed in collaboration with communities and tangata whenua 
    • need to take account of local history and environmental pressures 
    • must set goals that are ambitious and reasonable, with a timeframe to achieve them
    • are bound by NPS-FM requirements.

    What are FMUs?

    Freshwater Management Units are the scale we use to manage freshwater in our region, with every water body (and its catchment area) fitting into one of the FMUs.

    The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) directs regional councils to identify areas called Freshwater Management Units (FMUs). FMUs set physical boundaries for how we manage freshwater in Southland.

    In Southland, we have six FMUs and they are based around water body catchments. This allows the water body to be managed as an integrated whole using the philosophy ki uta ki tai – ‘mountains to the sea’, meaning that everything in the environment is connected. Four of the FMUs cover the main stem rivers (Waiau, Aparima, Ōreti, and Mataura), and the other two are Waituna and Fiordland and the Islands. 

    What is hauora?

    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. 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.

    What is Te Mana o te Wai?

    Te Mana o te Wai is a concept that puts the well-being and health of our rivers, lakes, aquifers and estuaries at the centre of how we manage our freshwater. Te Mana o te Wai encompasses the integrated and holistic health and well-being of a waterbody.

    When we effectively manage our freshwater to meet Te Mana o te Wai, the waterbody will sustain the full range of environmental, social, cultural and economic values held by iwi and our community. The concept is expressed in te reo Maori, but applies to freshwater management for and on behalf of the whole community.

    How did Council develop visions?

    Council worked together with Te Ao Marama to draft the freshwater visions. This co-drafting was guided by the knowledge we already held around the community aspirations for freshwater, and the values and objectives work (completed in 2019-20). In developing the draft visions, we’ve also used consistent language, avoiding unnecessary complexity, in addition to recognising that the condition of waterbodies and freshwater ecosystems can vary across the region.

    How will the visions be implemented?

    Visions are implemented through multiple policy avenues like Regional Policy Statement policies, proposed Southland Water and Land Plan rules, and action plans under the National Objectives Framework process.

    How do visions affect Southlanders?

    Freshwater visions provide Southland communities ambitious but achievable goals for freshwater in the future, which will help to guide freshwater management. The more direct impact for most Southlanders will be through the implementation of the Southland Water and Land Plan, which will describe how we will achieve these visions.

    What are the follow up steps after visions?

    1. Amend the freshwater policies in the Regional Policy Statement to reflect the visions
    2. Amend the Southland Water and Land Plan through a plan change to reflect visions
    3. Limit setting and action plans/hauora plans

    Council aims to undertake the above steps as a package by December 2023.

    Southlanders will have an opportunity to have input on these amendments and decisions.