It released a discussion document in March based on the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum.
Following hundreds of submissions and more than 50 meetings throughout the country with councils, iwi, environment groups, businesses and the public, the Cabinet has confirmed the first stage of the freshwater reforms.
A new freshwater collaborative planning option will be created which will give communities and iwi a greater say in planning what they want for their local waterways and how they should be managed.
“This means that rather than a council drafting a plan and then asking for comment, a representative group of stakeholders drawn from the community will be able to work together on a plan,” Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said.
“Getting agreement up front in the planning process will mean fewer debates and less litigation further down the track, which will ultimately save time and money and lead to better overall outcomes.”
The ministers said over the years ahead the Government will work closely with regional councils to provide guidance and other support to help them implement the changes.
Based on feedback received during consultation, it has been decided not to progress plans to review how Water Conservation Orders work with regional planning.
“We have listened to feedback from councils and communities and the concern about the impact such changes may have. While we continue to see value in all freshwater planning processes being aligned, we do not propose any changes to Water Conservation Orders at this time,” the ministers said.
Other parts of the immediate steps for the freshwater reforms include the creation of a National Objectives Framework and better water accounting.
Related story: Speech: Amy Adams – Freshwater Reforms