November 2011
November 2011: Read the New Zealand Conservation Authority's views on the protection and use of rivers.

From the chairperson

Over the last eighteen months the New Zealand Conservation Authority has investigated the protection of rivers in New Zealand.

The paper Protecting New Zealand’s Rivers sets out our analysis and conclusions. We have put forward some practical proposals for improving river protection and we want the Government and others with an interest in the country’s rivers to pick up these proposals. Some key conclusions are:

  • New Zealand has a network of national parks and reserves to permanently protect the best of our landscapes but we have no similar system for permanently protecting the best of our rivers. We suggest a system of protected rivers be established. This would provide an equivalent to our national park system, but for rivers.
  • A government agency should be given the responsibility to protect rivers.
  • The use and development of our rivers is running ahead of their protection. The balance between use, development and protection of rivers needs to be corrected by increasing the emphasis upon protection.
  • Our rivers are under increasing pressure from development and intensive agriculture – the water take has almost doubled in the past 10 years and at the same time water quality has fallen. Freshwater surveys show that many places are not safe to swim.
  • The time to act is now. The Conservation Authority fears that if steps are not taken to protect our best rivers we will lose them.

Dr Kay Booth


Rivers have special intrinsic values that are being incrementally lost. The New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) believes action should be taken to reverse this trend.

Existing statutory agencies have a range of tools available to better protect rivers. Some of these tools would be more effective if they were refined, and there was greater national direction for their implementation.

This discussion paper is the NZCA’s advice to the Minister of Conservation and is designed to generate public discussion on the future of New Zealand’s rivers.

Publication information

ISBN: 978-0-478-14918-0 (online)

This report may be cited as: New Zealand Conservation Authority, 2011: Protecting New Zealand's Rivers. New Zealand Conservation Authority, Wellington. 68 pages.


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