Healthy Waters

Keeping waterways healthy

The quality of our waterways is crucial to meeting our daily needs and our future growth.

Our rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater supply us with drinking water and support our agriculture and trade. Our waters allow us to enjoy fishing, sailing and swimming and are an asset to our tourism. They also make for a healthy habitat to many native species.

Auckland Council is working to ensure that our waterways remain healthy, clean and safe.

We can all care for our waterways by being water sensitive. Find out more how you can help promote healthy waterways.

Learn more about freshwater in New Zealand, see the Ministry for the Environment website.

Current state of Auckland’s waterways

Industries and day-to-day practices contaminate and degrade the quality of our waterways.

One way this happens is groundwater or surfacewater picking up pollutants. The pollutants come from numerous sources, including:

  • chemicals
  • rubbish
  • car and boats
  • sewage
  • construction materials and debris
  • agricultural and industrial waste.

For the latest reports about freshwater quality, see the State of Auckland website.

Man and woman checking stream water 


Protecting Māuri (life force)

Freshwater is a tāonga (treasure) and has cultural and spiritual value. The Treaty of Waitangi recognises the special relationship we all have with our waters.

Other important principles include:

  • māuri (life force)
  • kaitiakitanga (guardianship)
  • wāhi tapu (sacred sites)
  • rangatiratanga (self-determination)
  • mana tangata/ōritetanga (citizenship and equal opportunity)
  • mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and wisdom)
  • mana whenua (customary authority).

To honour these principles, we work towards:

  • reducing pollution of streams and rivers
  • engaging with iwi about how infrastructure will impact areas of cultural significance
  • taking a holistic approach to managing stormwater assets, thus mirroring te ao Māori’s view of nature as a network.


Auckland’s Freshwater Programme

For information on the programme, see Wai Ora - Healthy Waterways (Auckland’s Freshwater Programme).

Catchment management plans

Catchment management plans contain information on natural catchments. They help planners and developers make decisions on their projects. This information includes existing stormwater assets in the area, geology and native biodiversity.

Healthy Water network projects

We are restoring some of our previously underground piped streams back to their natural state. This is commonly referred to as ‘daylighting’. Native shrubs and trees on new stream banks will improve biodiversity and reduce erosion.

View some of our daylighting project videos:

Hooton Reserve, Lucas Creek pipe daylighting project time-lapse video:

La Rosa pipe daylighting project before and after video:

Oakley Creek pipe daylighting project video:

We are also enriching Aucklander’s waterway connections by regularly maintaining our built and natural assets. Find out more about waterways and natural systems under water network responsibilities.

Read about Healthy Water projects in your area.

Discharge permits

We control contaminant discharges onto land and into water and air.

Water permits

We are responsible for managing water use in Auckland. You may need a water permit to:

  • take or use water from a natural or manmade source
  • dam water in a watercourse
  • divert surfacewater or groundwater
  • install, alter or decommission a bore.

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