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What is a catchment? A catchment, or whaitua, is an area of land where rain flows into a common river, lake or other body of water. A healthy water catchment supports swimming, fishing, and local ecosystems. Find your catchment at NZ River maps

Join a catchment restoration group

Local community involvement is one of the keys to the long-term health of water in a catchment, so plants, animals, fish and insects that depend on having healthy water can thrive and flourish.

Start a catchment group

If there’s no existing group supporting your catchment, it’s possible to start one yourself, and there are plenty of resources to help. The best way to improve water quality in your catchment is to get everyone who lives along it together, identify problems and come up with collective solutions.

Tips for a great catchment group

Lyndon Strang of the NOSLAM catchment group in North Otago has some great advice for catchment groups in the first 6 minutes of this video.
  • We've developed a four-step plan for catchment groups to develop effective farm plans.
  • Find Our Land and Water-backed communication and collaboration tools in the Toolbox.
  • Living Water, a partnership between DOC and Fonterra with contributions from several Our Land and Water scientists, is trialling tools and solutions in 5 catchments around the country. Follow their progress for inspiration from this leading-edge project.


Where to find funding

Funding and support for on-farm initiatives is available, particularly for riparian planting and wetland restoration. Contact your regional council, local iwi or the organisations below to access funding and support in your region.

  • Regional councils are often a good source of funding.
  • Landcare Trust NZ regional coordinators have a good understanding of the different funding sources
  • The government’s One Billion Trees Fund provides grants to landowners, groups and organisations to plant native trees, trees for erosion control, and managed retirement of land.
  • The Million Metres Streams Project can list a watercourse on your property for funding.
  • Apply for trees or pledge land via Trees That Count
  • Department of Conservation’s Community Fund supports community-led conservation projects on public and private land.
  • DoC’s website has a long list of other national organisations that provide funding and grants for conservation projects.
  • The government’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund funds innovative projects that will create more value from the food and fibre industries. Projects can range from small, one-off initiatives requiring a small grant, to multimillion-dollar partnerships.
  • The Ministry for Primary Industries lists a number of funding programmes on its website.
  • Agmardt offers capability grants to future leaders in agribusiness, and grants for market insight investment, establishing collaborative relationships, and developing innovative ideas.
  • Our Land and Water runs a Rural Professionals Fund to support research led by farmers and farm advisors. Please sign up for our newsletter for announcements.

Measure your progress

It's important to use standard measurements for the land management actions being made to improve water quality in your catchment. This allows information from multiple farms and restoration projects to be compiled and linked to water quality outcomes. See our list of potential standard measurements below. Our ongoing work to create a Register of Land Management Actions for New Zealand will continue to refine and improve this list.

Get involved in catchment planning

Your regional council is responsible for decisions about the freshwater catchments, lakes and rivers in your region. If you’re interested in how your local river or lake is being managed, we encourage you to find out more about what your regional council is doing and get involved.

  • Many councils run full collaborative planning processes to make planning decisions about fresh water. Keep an eye on your regional council website for opportunities to be involved.
  • When a regional council makes or changes a regional plan it is required to notify the public. That’s your opportunity to make a submission. You can also sometimes make submissions on individual resource consent applications.
  • Beef and Lamb NZ has advice on its website for those who would like to influence regional council decision-makers (audio | PDF).

Collaboration is key

Working with your catchment neighbours, aligned farmers, businesses along your supply chain, and building trust with your end customers will help you meet your aspirations.

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