Auckland Council are “setting our direction for improving freshwater in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland” and have opened public submissions on their plan. In documentation, the Council states: “Freshwater is precious and limited, a taonga of huge significance, and of particular importance to Māori.” They also mention that in addition to the public consultation, “there is a separate and ongoing programme of engagement with mana whenua in Auckland.”

Submissions close on 4 December. We have provided the following information to aid concerned New Zealanders in submitting feedback to the Council.


Auckland Council are basing their Freshwater Management Plan on the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 set by the previous Labour Government. The NPS directs councils to, among other things, “give effect to Te Mana o te Wai” and “for te ao Māori to be recognised in the freshwater management system”. It also refers to ‘Mahinga kai’ which is one of four compulsory values in the NPS.

These concepts are not widely understood and make it difficult for Kiwis to engage with issues around freshwater management.

Mahinga Kai relates to the need for customary resources to be available, customary practices to be exercised “to the extent desired”, and tikanga and preferred methods to be practiced. This involves “working with mana whenua to identify Māori freshwater values”.

Te Mana o te Wai is a hierarchy of priorities when it comes to water management. The top priority is the ‘health and wellbeing’ of the water. This is followed by the health needs of people (e.g. drinking water), and then provision of social, economic, and cultural wellbeing.

The six principles of Te Mana o te Wai are:

  1. 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
  2. Kaitiakitanga: the obligation of tangata whenua to preserve, restore, enhance, and sustainably use freshwater for the benefit of present and future generations
  3. Manaakitanga: the process by which tangata whenua show respect, generosity, and care for freshwater and for others
  4. 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
  5. Stewardship: the obligation of all New Zealanders to manage freshwater in a way that ensures it sustains present and future generations
  6. Care and respect: the responsibility of all New Zealanders to care for freshwater in providing for the health of the nation



All questions are optional. You will first be asked to choose which sections you wish to feedback on. Select as many as you like.

We suggest that if you want to submit on the racial aspects of the plan you should select ‘A. Long-term vision’ and ‘C. Waterbodies where special management is required’.

You can also provide feedback in the box labelled G. Other Feedback.

A. Long-term vision

You will be asked if you Strongly Support, Mostly Support, Mostly do not Support, Strongly do not Support, or Don’t Know, the following:

“The overarching vision is: To protect and enhance Te Mauri o te Wai – the life-sustaining capacity of water.”

We suggest that you answer: Strongly do not Support.

You will have the opportunity to give a reason why. Here is our suggested answer:

Water is the essence of ALL life and everyone has an interest in healthy water − in streams, culverts, lakes, wetlands or out of a tap. Auckland Council’s vision supports the idea that water is of more importance to one ethnicity than to all others. The presumptions that Māori have a special relationship with water that is not shared by the rest of the community and that they have “stronger ambitions to improve our waterways” are simply wrong. I oppose any long-term plan or vision that provides different rights for people and communities based on race. All Aucklanders should be equal stakeholders in how freshwater is managed in our city. In order for me to support a vision for a freshwater management plan, there must be no racial discrimination involved in the decision-making, monitoring, management or allocation of the region’s freshwater. Preference should not be given to the views of one racial or ethnic group.

You then have the opportunity to provide feedback on the specific Freshwater Management Units. If you do this, you can reiterate the points you have already made in your answer above.

C. Waterbodies where special management is required

You will be asked if you Agree, Disagree, Other, Don’t Know, with the following:

“What do you think about our approach to identify outstanding waterbodies, with criteria for Māori cultural values, ecological, landscape and recreational values?”

We suggest that you answer: Disagree.

You will have the opportunity to give a reason why. Here is our suggested answer:

The Setting Our Direction document places Māori cultural values at the top of a list of considerations for managing ‘outstanding waterbodies’. I oppose any policy that prioritises one race or culture’s values over all other races or cultures in relation to the management of our freshwater.

Other Feedback

Finally you have the opportunity to give any other feedback and upload any supporting documentation. Here are some additional remarks you might like to make:

Water is too crucial for the Council to base its management on race. Every single person in Auckland relies on our freshwater to survive. No one should have any special rights or influence regarding our freshwater simply because of their ancestry. We cannot begin to discuss the many aspects of improving the quality of our water and the health of our environments until the council ensures a foundation of equality that has every Aucklander as an equal stakeholder.

Alternative ways to submit

Email: [email protected]
with a scanned copy of your feedback form

Post your completed form to Fresh Water Auckland, Auckland Council, Private Bag 92300, Victoria Street West, Auckland, 1142