Our mission

Our mission

The problem

Dairy farming is central to New Zealand’s economy, but how we are farming is having an impact on our lowland freshwater ecosystems.

Our streams, lakes, rivers, lagoons and coastal estuaries are being impacted by high levels of nutrients, sediment, effluent and other contaminants. Freshwater ecosystems have been reduced and degraded.

We need to change this because water is a key part of our national identity and New Zealanders expect to be able to swim, fish and gather kai in our waterbodies. 

Our partnership

Fonterra and the Department of Conservation both recognise that New Zealand’s economic, cultural and social wellbeing depend on healthy ecosystems. So they have joined forces to respond to the farming and freshwater challenge.

Living Water is designing and trialling solutions to improve freshwater ecosystems and accelerate sustainable farming in five catchments. We are doing this by reducing dairy farming impacts on freshwater and increasing the resilience of our lowland freshwater ecosystems.

Living Water is on a mission to build connections which will drive better outcomes for the environment, the economy and New Zealanders.

Leading change

Living Water is a champion of change. Changing how we think about the challenge, changing how we work together to solve problems, and changing how we implement solutions.

Living Water will work with others to co-design the solutions, try them out in five catchments, cost them, and then plan how to take them to scale across New Zealand.

How Will This Programme Actually

Living Water will help improve freshwater ecosystems in the five catchments we are working in over the ten year period. The learnings (and sometimes failures) from Living Water are also being continuously shared with other farmers, other catchments and other organisations so we can assist with accelerating freshwater improvement across New Zealand.

How long will it take to see change?

Some changes will be seen immediately, like increased natural habitats created through plantings, in-stream modifications and the protection or construction of wetlands. Other changes will take longer, like improving water quality and the re-establishment of some species. Some rivers, lakes, streams, lagoons and coastal estuaries will take a long time to recover, but we will be able to track their progress and use indicators to tell us that things are getting better.

Nicki Atkinson at Waituna Lagoon

In some areas it may take 50 years to see significant changes in water quality.

Trish Kirkland-Smith

Farmers know things need to change. They need to know exactly what to do next, how much it’s going to cost and how to do it efficiently and effectively.

Sarah Yarrow
John Walter & son at Te Whangai Trust
Survey of Powells Rd Draining Silverstream

Why Can’t You Just Roll Out
The Same Solution Everywhere?

Ecosystems and our land and water environments are complicated and differ greatly across New Zealand. Soil types and water pathways can vary from paddock to paddock, farm to farm, and region to region so solutions have to be designed and tailored to their unique location. This is why we are designing and trialling solutions in five very different catchments, so we can help determine what solutions will work best in which locations.

Jane & Michael Tither planning