We can all act as kaitiaki (guardians) of New Zealand’s land and water. At home, even in the city, there are lots of big and small ways you can contribute to lessening the pressure on our precious resources

Close the gap between farm and plate

Our Land and Water research tells us that connection and collaboration is crucial to creating faster, more robust long-term changes to the way New Zealanders care for their land and water. Try these actions to build your connection to the people who grow and farm our food.

  • Close the gap between farm and plate by buying food from weekend markets or roadside stalls when possible.
  • If you can, pay more for produce with sustainability credentials (eg organic, free range).
  • Try online services that deliver produce directly from the farm, shortening the value chain. For example:
    • Ooooby (organic produce in Auckland, Waikato and Christchurch)
    • Google “meat direct from farm NZ” for a list of farms and butchers that sell and deliver meat directly to the public
  • Read or watch some rural media to get outside your ‘filter bubble’:
  • Follow the progress of Pā to Plate, which aims to reconnect Māori with produce from their ancestral whenua, beginning in Taitokerau (Northland).

Improve your local waterway

Research across the country tells us that our rural and urban waterways are degraded. Here are some ways that everyone can contribute to restoring their local waterway.

  • Join a Landcare Trust restoration project or set up an urban catchment care group. See In Your Catchment for more information.
  • Volunteer to plant or fund trees via Trees That Count.
  • Donate to the Million Metres Streams Project.
  • When phosphorus enters our freshwater it can stimulate algal growth, leading to poor water quality. Phosphates in laundry and dishwashing detergents are being phased out, but some are still sold in New Zealand – check that you’re buying phosphate-free detergents.
  • You may already pick up rubbish from rivers, lakes and beaches – but you can contribute closer to home by clearing any rubbish you notice in drains and gutters on your street.
  • Before you go swimming in a river or lake, check its swimmability on the LAWA website. Our National Register of Actions research will soon be contributing to this useful website.
  • If you’re interested in how your local river or lake is being managed, find out more about what your regional council is doing and get involved. See In Your Catchment for more information.

Reduce food waste

About a third of all food produced is wasted. Every year Kiwis send 122,547 tonnes of food to landfill, wasting $872 million a year. This puts pressure on farmers to produce more, which puts extra pressure on the land and environment.

Become a citizen scientist

Citizen science projects often involve volunteer non-scientists in collecting or analysing data as part of a research study.

  • NIWA is looking for citizen scientists to monitor select riparian planting projects, track changes in water and habitat quality as well as stream invertebrates such as insects and molluscs, with all equipment and training provided.
  • In the Auckland region, you can get involved with Wai Care to monitor water quality in a stream you care about.
  • You can assess your local stream health using NIWA’s new stream health monitoring and assessment kit, SHMAK. This kit enables non-scientists to collect consistent, scientifically valid information from small rural streams.
  • In South Auckland, Taranaki and Otago you can get involved with the Participatory Science Platform. Government funding is available for collaborative research projects that bring together communities and scientists on research investigating a locally important question or problem.