Government invests $12m to clean up waterways

The Government is investing $12 million to help support farmers and communities clean up our waterways.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday said the money will help reduce pollution from flowing through our cities and farms and into our waterways.

"That will be available to those waterways that are at risk of sedimentation, essentially contributing to issues that mean that our waterways aren't as swimmable as they could be," she said.

"Every New Zealander should be able to swim in their river without getting sick."

Environment Minister David Parker said it will take "a generation to fix".

"This money will go to assisting, encouraging, the likes of some of this protection of mini-wetlands and restoration of margins and waterways.

"Working with the community we are fulfilling the Government's promise to stop the degradation of our waterways, reverse the damage and make measurable improvements within five years."

Ardern said farmers are already taking the initiative and showing "leadership in our rural communities".

"I heard today examples already of initiatives being taken by farmers themselves, decisions they're making themselves to retire parts of their land, to both to improve the impact of practise but also at the same time retaining the productivity of their land as well.

"But there is a cost and so what we're saying is we think there's a role for us to play in supporting that work."

The initiative is starting with riparian planting, fencing and restoration at Northland's Kaipara Harbour.

Further measures will be rolled out over coming months as the Government moves to implement its Essential Freshwater plan. This plan will:

  • set clearer and stronger national direction for councils on freshwater standards
  • put in place measures to improve land use such as controlling poor winter grazing practices
  • provide guidance on the preservation of precious natural resources such as remaining wetlands and streams.

Ardern said other waterways entitled to funding will be announced in the coming months.