I hereby give notice that an ordinary meeting of the Rural Advisory Panel will be held on:




Meeting Room:



Friday, 6 August 2021


Room 1, Level 26
135 Albert Street


Ngā Hui a te Rōpū Kaitohutohu Take ā-Taiwhenua/ Rural Advisory Panel







Deputy Mayor Cr Bill Cashmore

Auckland Council

Deputy Chairperson

Cr Greg Sayers

Auckland Council


Brent Bailey

Rodney Local Board, Auckland Council


Alan Cole

Franklin Local Board, Auckland Council


Vance Hodgson

Horticulture New Zealand


Trish Fordyce

New Zealand Forest Owners Association


Wilma Foster

Dairy New Zealand


Annaliese Goettler

Young Farmers


Fiona Gower

Rural Women New Zealand


Steve Levet

Rural Contractors New Zealand


Craig Maxwell

Federated Farmers


Greg McCracken

Fonterra Shareholders Council


Andrew McKenzie

Beef and Lamb New Zealand


Wayne Scott

Aggregate and Quarry Association


Geoff Smith

Equine Industry


Peter Spencer

New Zealand Forest Owners Association


Ken Turner

Waitākere Ranges Local Board, Auckland Council


Keith Vallabh

Pukekohe Vegetable Growers


Glenn Wilcox

Independent Māori Statutory Board

(Quorum 10 members)



Sandra Gordon

Kaitohutohu Mana Whakahaere Matua / Senior Governance Advisor


2 August 2021


Contact Telephone: (09) 8908150

Email: sandra.gordon@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Website: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz


Terms of Reference


(Excerpt – full terms of reference available as a separate document)


The terms of reference set out the purpose, role and protocols of the Auckland Council Rural Advisory Panel for the 2019-2022 term of the council.  Panel members must abide by the Code of Conduct for Members of Auckland Council Advisory Panels.





As one of council’s engagement mechanisms with the rural sector in Auckland, the Rural Advisory Panel provides advice to the council within the remit of the Auckland Plan on the following areas:


·         council policies, plans and strategies relevant to rural issues

·         regional and strategic matters relevant to rural issues

·         any matter of particular interest or concern to rural communities.





The panel’s advice will contribute to improving the outcomes of the rural sector as set out in the Auckland Plan.  The panel will provide advice through its agreed work programme.



Work programme


The panel must develop a work programme for the term.  The agendas should be focused and aligned with the Auckland Plan and the long-term plan.





The panel cannot make formal submissions to Auckland Council on council strategies, policies and plans, for example, the annual plan.  However, the panel may be asked for informal feedback during a consultative process.


In its advisory role to the council, the panel may have input into submissions made by the council to external organisations but does not make independent submissions, except as agreed with the council.


This does not prevent individual members being party to submissions outside their role as panel members.





The form and functioning of the panel may be reviewed prior to or after, the end of the year 2022.


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



ITEM   TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                         PAGE

1          Apologies                                                                                                                        7

2          Declaration of Interest                                                                                                   7

3          Confirmation of Minutes                                                                                               7

4          Extraordinary Business                                                                                                7

5          Chair's update                                                                                                                9

6          Thriving Communities Action Plan Refresh                                                             11

7          Essential Freshwater update - regulatory proposals, guidance and technical publications                                                                                                                  13

8          Compliance monitoring of freshwater regulations                                                  19

9          Proposal for a pilot programme to monitor groundwater takes in Tomarata      29

10        Review of dam management in Auckland                                                                39

11        Consideration of Extraordinary Items


1          Apologies


At the close of the agenda no apologies had been received.



2          Declaration of Interest


Members are reminded of the need to be vigilant to stand aside from decision making when a conflict arises between their role as a member and any private or other external interest they might have.



3          Confirmation of Minutes


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)         confirm the ordinary minutes of its meeting, held on Friday, 7 May 2021 as a true and correct record.



4          Extraordinary Business


Section 46A(7) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (as amended) states:


“An item that is not on the agenda for a meeting may be dealt with at that meeting if-


(a)        The local authority by resolution so decides; and


(b)        The presiding member explains at the meeting, at a time when it is open to the public,-


(i)         The reason why the item is not on the agenda; and


(ii)        The reason why the discussion of the item cannot be delayed until a subsequent meeting.”


Section 46A(7A) of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (as amended) states:


“Where an item is not on the agenda for a meeting,-


(a)        That item may be discussed at that meeting if-


(i)         That item is a minor matter relating to the general business of the local authority; and


(ii)        the presiding member explains at the beginning of the meeting, at a time when it is open to the public, that the item will be discussed at the meeting; but


(b)        no resolution, decision or recommendation may be made in respect of that item except to refer that item to a subsequent meeting of the local authority for further discussion.”




Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Chair's update

File No.: CP2021/10121




Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To receive an update from the Chairperson, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       The Deputy Mayor will discuss matters of relevance to the rural sector.


Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      receive the update from the Chairperson, Deputy Mayor Bill Cashmore.



Ngā tāpirihanga


There are no attachments for this report.      

Ngā kaihaina



Sandra Gordon - Kaitohutohu Mana Whakahaere Matua / Senior Governance Advisor


Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Thriving Communities Action Plan Refresh

File No.: CP2021/10671




Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To receive a presentation from staff on the Thriving Communities/Ngā Hapori Momoho Action Plan refresh.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       The Thriving Communities/Ngā Hapori Momoho Action Plan (the plan) was published in 2014 and is Auckland Council’s core strategy for community and social development. It provides a platform for Council to support thriving, inclusive and resilient communities.

3.       Since the plan’s adoption, Auckland has experienced rapid population growth, increasing diversity and growing socio-economic inequality. These changes present both challenges and opportunities for the way Council supports communities, designs and delivers its services and enables all Aucklanders to participate and feel included.

4.       The plan is now being refreshed so that is relevant to Aucklanders and responsive to their needs now and for the next 10 years. The refresh will build on the foundations of the existing plan to strengthen what is working well and to provide a greater focus on areas where Council could have more impact – such as supporting Aucklanders most in need.

5.       A presentation will be provided by staff from the Community and Social Policy team who will provide an overview of the plan refresh and an opportunity to ensure rural perspectives are considered during the development of the draft plan.

6.       The draft plan is expected to be circulated for public consultation in early 2022.


Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      note the presentation on the Thriving Communities/Ngā Hapori Momoho Action Plan

b)      provide feedback on rural perspectives for consideration during the development of the draft plan.


Ngā tāpirihanga


There are no attachments for this report.    

Ngā kaihaina



Carol Hayward - Principal Advisor Panels


Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Essential Freshwater update - regulatory proposals, guidance and technical publications

File No.: CP2021/10472



Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To provide an update on central government initiatives on the Essential Freshwater programme.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       Central government’s Essential Freshwater programme resulted in several regulatory instruments coming into effect from 3 September 2020. Key regulatory instruments of relevance to this update include:

·    National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM)

·    National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management 2020 (NES-F)

·    Resource Management (Stock Exclusion) Regulations 2020 (stock exclusion regulations).

3.       Since gazettal, considerable work has been required by many interests, including the regional sector, to ensure that such tools can be reasonably interpreted and implemented. This update notes some of central government’s technical publications and guidance material to aid that outcome.

4.       In addition, the regional sector (and others) received confirmation on 25 May 2021 that further regulatory amendments are likely to be proposed to the NES-F (Attachment A). As at the end of July, staff understand that the NES-F regulatory proposals will:

·        clarify the definition of ‘natural wetland’ as it relates to aspects like ‘temporary pooling’

·        provide a consent pathway for quarries, landfill and managed landfill operations, the mining sector and for urban development

·        provide for wetland restoration.

5.       The new NES-F regulatory proposals are planned for public consultation from mid-August, followed by any consultation on an exposure draft of the regulations later in the year.

6.       In addition, on 14 July 2021 central government released two discussion documents proposing firstly, regulatory amendments for the low slope map within the stock exclusion regulations and secondly, new regulations to support the freshwater farm plan system. These are overviewed later in this update.

Technical publications and guidance documentation

7.       The following technical publications and guidance material is available on the MFE website, or is expected to be published prior to the Rural Advisory Panel’s meeting on 6 August 2021:

·        A guide to setting instream nutrient concentrations under clause 3.13 of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (published June 2021)

·        Stormwater Policy and Plan Provisions Stocktake and Assessment (June 2021)

·        Advice to inform the development of a benthic cyanobacteria attribute (June 2021)

·        Wetland delineation hydrology tool for Aotearoa New Zealand (July 2021)

·        Measuring and reporting water takes. A guide for consent holders (July 2021)

·        Wetland National Works in Waterways guideline – best practice guide for civil infrastructure works and maintenance (July 2021)

·        Clarification on national direction on freshwater management. Fish passage policy and regulations (July 2021)

·        Wetland definitions interpretation guidance (expected mid-August 2021).

8.       Further technical publications and guidance material to support the NPS-FM and NES-F is likely to be commissioned by MFE in the short term. A brief overview of some of these topics will be provided at the meeting.

Proposed changes to the low slope map in the stock exclusion regulations

9.       The stock exclusion regulations require that, from 1 July 2025, certain stock types (beef cattle and deer; and not in a new pastoral system) on low slope land must be excluded from lakes and wide rivers, and all stock covered by the regulations must be excluded from natural wetlands on low slope land. Low slope land is defined by reference to a legally recognised webpage on the Ministry’s website.

10.     Following the previous release of the low slope map, central government invited feedback on any refinements that may be required. Following a review of the feedback and advice from officials and other interests, central government elected to propose amendments to the stock exclusion regulations, primarily to:

·    adopt a ‘local terrain averaging’ mapping method that better assesses average slope

·    apply mandatory stock exclusion regulatory provisions where the average slope provided is up to five degrees, while the freshwater farm planning tool will be used to manage stock exclusion where the average slope is between five and ten degrees

·    apply a 500 metre altitude threshold such that high country areas of extensive pastoral farming are not captured by the mandatory stock exclusion regulatory provisions, in addition to excluding some areas of tall tussock and depleted grassland as they are unlikely to have high stocking rates.

New freshwater farm planning regulations

11.     Central government propose to establish freshwater farm planning regulations in the first half of 2022, with introduction being phased to enable the adaptation of existing farm environmental plans and industry programmes to the new system, and as new regional plans under the NPS-FM become operative from 2025 (that set out objectives and limits etc).

12.     The intent is that farm plans will be able to demonstrate how they will achieve ‘regulated outcomes’ of catchment values and context, ecosystem health and farm practice, together with giving effect to the content of regional plans. The consultation document proposes either to establish system settings at a reasonably general level, with separate guidance (preferred MFE option), or they specify in detail how the outcomes need to be achieved.

13.     The proposed regulatory approach will:

·        specify how the freshwater farm plan achieves the ‘regulated outcomes’

·        assess the impacts and risks of farming activities for waterways

·        identify actions for the farm operator

·        meet any consent requirements or regional or national rules, and

·        provide base information about the farm’s owner and operator and other details.



14.     The proposal highlights that freshwater farm plan certifiers will need to meet preferably nationally set standards (accreditation through new professional body) and be appointed by regional councils to operate in their region. Auditors would similarly be approved to operate in their regions. The opportunity for tangata whenua involvement in oversight, contributors, quality assurance or training is identified as possible options. Re-certification is proposed to occur at either three or five year intervals with central government indicating a desire for the shorter interval. The proposed regulations will enable a certifier’s accreditation to be removed by the national body where appropriate professional and ethical standards and technical competence have not been maintained.

15.     Central government prefers that auditors who are accredited by an existing accreditation body will fulfil the auditing function. A risk-based approach would be used to determine audit frequency, including an option that regional councils retain discretion to increase audit frequency should circumstances require it (eg, degraded environments).

16.     A quality assurance mechanism is proposed for the freshwater farm planning system, to ensure that the tool achieves the intended freshwater outcomes. This would be a national public entity. Regional councils are also proposed to monitor compliance by farm operators and take enforcement action as required, including the issuing of infringement fees.

17.     Freshwater farm plans are proposed to be rolled out either on a catchment-by-catchment approach based on set criteria (preferred central government approach) or, based on the characteristics and risks of individual farms, using criteria yet to be determined (eg, farm size, system, activity etc). Central government propose that regional councils, partnering with tangata whenua, are best placed to bring the relevant catchment values and context together in an accessible format to underpin the work of farm operators and certifiers.

18.     Central government consider that data from freshwater farm plan certification and audit processes will help ensure councils can undertake compliance, monitoring and enforcement, and to help report on and evaluate the system. The discussion document notes the broad areas of data collection proposed, an expectation of digital reporting over time (using consistent data standards), and an expectation of the kind of national indicators that should be prioritised (eg, length of waterways with stock excluded, and length of waterways with riparian planting). Central government acknowledge that such reporting on indicators would be conscious of privacy and commercial sensitivity considerations, and publicly reported information by regional councils would be aggregated in line with statutory obligations.

19.     Central government have published on the MFE website an initial regulatory impact analysis of the proposed options for the freshwater farm plan regulations dated July 2021.

Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      receive the update on central government’s Essential Freshwater programme including:

i)        advice on recent publications and guidance documentation to support the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020, the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management 2020, and associated instruments

ii)       advice that discussion documents seeking views on a new regulatory instrument for farm planning, and amendments to stock exclusion regulations, are available for submission to central government before 12 September 2021

iii)      advice in a 25 May 2021 letter from the Ministry for the Environment of potential regulatory amendment proposals to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management 2020 for wetlands and adjacent activities, for proposed release in August 2021.



Ngā tāpirihanga






MFE letter dated 25 May 2021 - regulatory amendments



Ngā kaihaina



Dave Allen - Manager Natural Environment Strategy


Jacques Victor – General Manager Auckland Plan Strategy and Research

Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



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Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Compliance monitoring of freshwater regulations

File No.: CP2021/10952




Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To provide an update on compliance monitoring initiatives associated with the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F) and stock exclusion regulations derived from section 360 of the Resource Management Act and the Auckland Unitary Plan (Operative in part) (AUP(OP)).

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       Compliance Monitoring staff within the Regulatory Services division of Auckland Council have been working closely with other council departments and other regional councils as they implement the Essential Freshwater regulatory instruments, as they initially came into effect in September 2020. The key components of current regulatory focus include:

·    wetlands / fish passage (NES-F)

·    synthetic nitrogen cap (NES-F)

·    stock exclusion (NES-F and AUP(OP))

3.       Compliance Monitoring staff will undertake communications initially with dairy farms due to existing proactive monitoring with that sector, but these communications will be progressively extended to all relevant activities. Deer farms will be the next focus area where proactive communications will occur, given data on farm type held by Regulatory Services.

Applying stock exclusion provisions from both national regulations and the Auckland Unitary Plan rules

4.       The differences between the AUP(OP) rules and the new national regulations are detailed in the attached documents which will be included in mail out material (Attachments A, B). When determining which rule applies, the more restrictive rule shall prevail, recognising that there are several scenarios to be explored. Compliance Monitoring staff anticipate that many dairy farms will be impacted by the AUP(OP) rules, being farms with a stock unit of 18 or greater, noting that one cow is approximately 5.5 stock units. This will be discussed and assessed at the time of the routine inspection, typically undertaken on an annual basis. In addition, compliance monitoring staff will recommend that any new fencing installed complies with the provisions of the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-F), as all new fencing is required to have a 3 metre setback.

5.       Compliance Monitoring staff are finalising the contents of the annual diary inspection letter and are appending the AUP(OP) rules relating to stock exclusion (E3.6.1.25), noting that these come into effect from 16 November 2021. With the understanding that overlapping rules brings complexity, further clarity can be sought by reaching out to Compliance Monitoring staff through the council call centre (09 301 0101), or alternatively by emailing monitoring@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

6.       Compliance Monitoring staff have arranged a meeting between themselves and representatives of Fonterra and DairyNZ for 9 August to inform and discuss the AUP(OP) rules, the NES-F and section 360 stock exclusion provisions made under the Resource Management Act. The intent is that these groups will help support the dissemination of information to dairy farmers as soon as possible.

Synthetic nitrogen reporting

7.       Under the new synthetic nitrogen capping rules, dairy farmers are required to submit detailed records of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser application to Auckland Council’s Compliance Monitoring Unit by 31 July each year. The specific requirements are being worked out between MFE and regional councils for communication to farmers once determined. The first records are required to be submitted by 31 July 2022, so it is important that all synthetic nitrogen application details are being recorded now. If the synthetic nitrogen cap threshold cannot be met, a resource consent will be required.

Permitted activity information

8.       Auckland Council’s permitted activity webpage has been updated, with information and forms now available for wetland activities and fish passage affected by structures. Completed application forms and any supporting documents can be lodged by emailing monitoring@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.

·    Notice of undertaking a permitted activity within or near a natural wetland


·    Notice of undertaking a permitted activity related to fish passage affected by structures


Fees and charges

9.       The costs for council’s regulatory work associated with the new freshwater regulations will be charged for based on actual and reasonable costs and cover such things as travelling, time spent undertaking the inspection and associated report writing, and is in line with the Fees and Charges Schedule effective from 1 July 2021. Additional site visits may be required if non-compliance is identified and will result in additional costs being attributed to the party concerned.

Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      note Auckland Council’s proactive compliance monitoring approach being brought to the Rural Advisory Panel’s attention, recognising the range of regulatory measures that require uptake by the rural sector in achieving freshwater management outcomes

b)      note Compliance Monitoring staff within the Regulatory Services division of Auckland Council are available to clarify compliance with freshwater regulatory requirements prior to these range of measures becoming effective through various regulatory instruments.

Ngā tāpirihanga






Stock exclusion provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan Operative in Part (AUP(OP))



Key provisions of NES-Freshwater of interest to farming activities


Ngā kaihaina



Timothy O’Grady, Principal Specialist Regulatory Compliance


James Hassall - General Manager, Licensing and Regulatory Compliance

Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



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Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



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Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Proposal for a pilot programme to monitor groundwater takes in Tomarata

File No.: CP2021/10683



Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       To propose the development of a business case for a pilot programme to monitor groundwater takes in Tomarata that fall under the permitted activity category.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       Auckland Council staff met with Councillor Greg Sayers and members of the Tomarata Landowners and Contractors Protection Association on 1 June 2021 to discuss concerns about loss of access to groundwater in their bores. Members raised their concerns about their bores running dry during summer and the perception that the council has over-allocated groundwater.

3.       Several factors other than groundwater availability could potentially result in a bore running dry. These include bore performance and structural integrity, a blocked pump filter, pump mechanical issues, the depth of the well, or interference effects of neighbouring takes. These factors must be investigated in a case-by-case manner before a conclusion can be made on the actual cause of a bore running out of water.

4.       In addition to the specific bore issues, the community raised their willingness for the council to monitor groundwater takes that currently fall under the Resource Management Act section 14(3)(b) permitted activity category and do not need a water permit (water take consent).

5.       Evidence from consent monitoring and from state of the environment monitoring of similar aquifers suggests that overallocation is not the driver of bores failing to access groundwater.

6.       Rainfall between November 2019 to April 2020 was 52 per cent below the long-term average of all years on record; evidence suggests that this is the worst drought in recorded history. The 2020 drought (and extended dry periods in 2019 and 2021) likely resulted in reduced recharge and thus lower groundwater levels across the region, including those in Tomarata.

7.       There are 35 bores recorded in the council’s databases in the Tomarata valley that access the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer. Of these, only two have a resource consent to take groundwater and thus are the only ones monitored for water take as required by conditions of consent.

8.       The total groundwater take is estimated to be 57 per cent of the water available for abstraction from the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer.

9.       This report proposes the development of a business case for a pilot programme to monitor permitted activity and Section 14(3)(b) groundwater takes in Tomarata (in addition to the consented take), along with enhanced water level monitoring for the following objectives:

·    validate modelling of permitted activity and 14(3)(b) use estimates

·    build concurrent datasets of water use and groundwater level response to better understand and communicate the cumulative effects of groundwater pumping

·    establish a trusted partnership between the council and concerned residents and farmers.

10.     If the Rural Advisory Panel support the proposed approach, staff will develop a more detailed business case for the proposed pilot.


Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      endorse the development of a business case for a pilot programme to monitor all groundwater takes concurrently with groundwater levels in the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer.



The Tomarata Waitematā aquifer

11.     Tomarata is located within a broad valley of approximately 20.1 square kilometres that is drained by the Poutawa Stream (Figure 1). Elevations range from 70 metres above mean sea level at the valley floor to over 225 metres above mean sea level at the south-eastern catchment margin.

Figure 1: Location of Tomarata (source: Auckland Council GeoMaps)

12.     Holocene age alluvial sediments comprise the surface strata and are up to 15 metres thick in the central valley. Miocene age Waitematā Group sandstones are the predominant formation in the valley and are generally present at depths from 15 to 150 metres. The basement rocks underlying the Waitematā Group are Jurassic age Waipapa Group greywacke.

13.     Council records show that all groundwater bores in the Tomarata valley are drilled into and access water from the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer. No bores on record access water from the overlying alluvium or underlying greywacke.

14.     Hydrogeological research of the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer was conducted during the 1990s by Carrier and Associates Ltd and the Auckland Regional Council to address groundwater management concerns. Additional work has been completed by consent holders, generally to support renewal applications.

15.     Hydrogeological work to date includes:

a.   geological bore logs and cross-sections

b.   groundwater chemistry analysis

c.   aquifer (pumping) tests of production bores and observation bores

d.   calculation of aquifer hydrogeological parameters, including transmissivity and storativity

e.   surface water depletion assessment

f.    saltwater intrusion assessment

g.   drawdown assessment for production bores, including likely drawdown in neighbouring bores

h.   aquifer recharge assessments

16.     This level of detail is comparable to other highly utilised groundwater resources in the region.

17.     Auckland Council does not currently have a groundwater monitoring site in the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer. Monitoring of water take volume and groundwater levels is conducted by consent holders in production bore and monitoring bores, respectively. Annual reports containing data and analysis along with statements on aquifer sustainability are provided to the council’s compliance team. An example of monitoring reports provided by a consent holder is presented in two below:

Figure 2: Example of groundwater abstraction volume and groundwater level monitoring data provided by a consent holder in Tomarata.

Community concerns

18.     Tomarata farmers and residents have informed the council that several groundwater bores in the valley have “run dry” – that they can no longer pump water from the bore. The farmers/residents have suggested that the council’s groundwater allocation regime is the cause of this.

19.     There are many reasons why a bore may no longer be able to access water, including collapse of the open-hole portion of the bore, collapse of the casing, clogging of the open-hole section of the bore by sediment or iron-reducing bacteria, mechanical/structural or electrical faults in the pump and rising main, and many more.

20.     We note that a bore-specific investigation is required to understand the reasons why an individual bore cannot access water. This work may have been done by bore owners and can form part of the background information gathering phase of a pilot study.

Groundwater allocation

21.     The council allocates groundwater via the Unitary Plan in Chapter E2, E7, and Appendix 3.

22.     Groundwater availability is based on a percentage of annual recharge, not the size or volume of the aquifer. Only a portion of the water that enters the aquifer each year is available for abstraction. Thus, all water contained within the aquifer as storage is unavailable. This is intended to always leave a net positive amount of water entering the aquifer, sufficient to support natural processes like maintaining baseflow to streams, preventing land subsidence, and preventing saltwater intrusion.

23.     The Tomarata Waitematā aquifer has an availability in Appendix 3 of the AUP of 638,000 cubic metres per year, based on a 1994 study[1].

24.     The council databases identify 35 groundwater bores within the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer management area (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Location of bores within the Tomarata Waitematā aquifer management area (AMA).

25.     There are two resource consents for groundwater use as shown in table one below.

Table 1: Consented groundwater takes in Tomarata

Bore ID

Maximum Take Allocation Daily (m3)

Maximum Take Allocation Yearly (m3)







26.     The other bores are presumed to take groundwater under:

·    Permitted Activity rules in Chapter E7 of the Auckland Unitary Plan which allow for take of up to:

5 cubic metres per day when averaged over any consecutive 20-day period, or

·    Section 14(3)(b) of the RMA, which states:

“A person is not prohibited by subsection (2) from taking, using, damming, or diverting any water, heat, or energy if—

(b)  in the case of fresh water, the water, heat, or energy is required to be taken or used for—

(i) an individual’s reasonable domestic needs; or

(ii) the reasonable needs of a person’s animals for drinking water,—

and the taking or use does not, or is not likely to, have an adverse effect on the environment;

27.     The council’s modelling shows that approximately 57 per cent of the aquifer’s water availability is allocated to existing users, including consented, permitted activity, and 14(3)(b) takes.

Effects of drought

28.     Rainfall for November 2019 to April 2020 was 52 per cent below the long-term average of all years on record (Figure 4). Work by Fowler[2] (2021) indicates that 2020 had the worst drought in Auckland’s recorded history. The 2020 drought (and extended dry periods in 2019 and 2021) likely reduced recharge to aquifers across the region, including the Tomarata Waitematā. Lowered groundwater levels are one likely consequence of reduced recharge.

29.     The effects of recent drought were recorded in all hydrometric parameters, rainfall, soil moisture, river flows, and groundwater levels. Record-breaking low groundwater levels were recorded at many sites across the region in different aquifer types (e.g., basalt, sandstone, and greywacke), including Waitematā Group aquifers.

Figure 4: Deviation from the long-term mean of the annual regional Dry Season rainfall (Nov-Apr) for the period 1979/80-2019/20. Source: RIMU, unpublished analysis.


30.     The New Zealand Drought Index for the last five years in Auckland shows the significant increase in the duration of dry periods following 2018 and the severity of the drought in 2020 (Figure 5:).

Figure 5: New Zealand Drought Index for Auckland region from June 2016 to June 2021. Source: NIWA.

31.     The most recent hydrology situation report on 1 July 2021 shows that Waitematā Group aquifers across the region are generally at low to very low levels relative to the historical record. The effects of low rainfall over the previous 24 months appear to have lasting impacts on groundwater levels region-wide, including those in Tomarata. Groundwater monitoring sites and current groundwater level category are shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Groundwater levels relative to long-term statistics for 1 July 2021.

32.     As highlighted in Figure 6, groundwater levels are very low across the region, particularly in south Auckland. Learnings from this proposed pilot could be beneficially applied to south Auckland where there is higher demand and more complex water management issues.

Tātaritanga me ngā tohutohu

Analysis and advice

Proposed monitoring of water levels and groundwater takes in Tomarata that fall under the permitted activity category.

33.     Staff recommend a pilot programme to monitor all groundwater takes, including resource consents, 14(3)(b) and permitted activity takes along with concurrent groundwater level monitoring over a 24-month period.

34.     Staff anticipate that this will serve to:

·    validate modelling of 14(3)(b) takes in Tomarata

·    quantify the actual total take from the aquifer

·    quantify the aquifer response to the cumulative take

·    establish relationships with residents and farmers.

35.     This pilot programme will be voluntary and requires engagement with the community, some members of the community have indicated their interest in participating in a programme like this.

Tauākī whakaaweawe āhuarangi

Climate impact statement

36.     NIWA’s climate change reports indicate that there will be more extended dry periods in the future. Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan includes provisions for drought.

37.     The proposed programme outlined in this report reflects the policy directives from Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan to improve the drought-resilience of Auckland.

Ngā whakaaweawe me ngā tirohanga a te rōpū Kaunihera

Council group impacts and views

38.     Auckland Council departments are working closely to develop a structured and comprehensive council approach to water resource management. This pilot study provides additional information about water use and aquifer hydrogeology that would be of benefit to residents/farmers and the council family to manage water resources.

39.     Findings of this pilot programme could also be useful to the council for considering its future planning, monitoring, and compliance approaches as regulatory instruments and national requirements evolve.

Ngā whakaaweawe ā-rohe me ngā tirohanga a te poari ā-rohe

Local impacts and local board views

40.     The project team will establish a communication plan with Rodney Local Board as part of the pilot study

41.     Feedback will be received from the Rodney Local Board prior to commencement of the study.

Tauākī whakaaweawe Māori

Māori impact statement

42.     The council recognises the significance of wai to mana whenua and the need to consider the rights and concerns of Māori in relation to water.

43.     The proposed pilot programme in this report provides an opportunity to share measured data with mana whenua to foster a shared understanding of water use and allocation. The proposed pilot can provide additional information at the local scale and aid the understanding of larger scale results provided in regular state of the environment reports on the current state and long-term trends of aquifers. This compact, targeted study will support informed discussions in the future about a collaborative approach to managing groundwater in the region.

Ngā ritenga ā-pūtea

Financial implications

44.     Internal resourcing by the council will need to be fully developed in the scoping phase. Staff envisage that several departments across the council whānau will need to be involved to achieve success.

45.     This pilot programme requires procurement and installation of water meters, water level recorders, and telemetry in the area to monitor the takes and groundwater levels. The exact number of devices depends on the number of landowners willing to take part in the pilot.

46.     A threshold of 70 per cent participation (i.e. 25 bores) is proposed as a minimum requirement for the project to commence.

47.     A topographic survey of all bore headworks to New Zealand Vertical Datum 2016 is also required.

48.     Table three below shows a high-level estimate of the budget required for this pilot. A more detailed budget will be prepared during the development of a business case.

Table 2: Indicative cost of the pilot study


Cost for one bore

Cost for 70% participation (25 bores)

Cost for 100% participation






Device and installation cost

Groundwater level monitoring (telemetered)*




5 monitoring bores in total

Data collection and analysis




Including data visualisation

Contingency (15%)









*Groundwater level monitoring is not required in all bores. A subset is sufficient to characterise groundwater level effects of pumping. Groundwater level monitoring requires specific bore construction. At least five known bores have this capability in Tomarata.

49.     As outlined in Table 3, staff estimate that the pilot will cost approximately $130,000 which will be met from within existing regional Healthy Waters operational budgets. This is subject to business case development and approval.

Ngā raru tūpono me ngā whakamaurutanga

Risks and mitigations

50.     The key risks and mitigations of monitoring permitter water takes are outlined in table three below.

Table 3: Risks and mitigations relating to the proposed pilot programme



Risk rating after mitigation (low, medium or high)

The Tomarata aquifer is lower priority (with respect to allocation issues) than other aquifers in Auckland

This may lead to a higher likelihood of success as fewer stakeholders are involved

Simpler geological system

Lower cost


Low participation by bore owners

Demonstrate benefits of the data collected and shared

Early involvement and clear communication to all stakeholders



Trust of the council in handling and reporting of data

Transparency throughout all stages of project development

Clear data management protocols developed

Clear expectations set for participants and the council


Compliance issues arising from uncovering unlawful activities

Establish a clear protocol for managing unlawful activities with Regulatory Services


Council resourcing

Will require both CAPEX and OPEX


Ngā koringa ā-muri

Next steps

51.     If the Rural Advisory Panel supports the proposed pilot programme, the next step is to establish a project team to prepare a business case. This will be comprised of the below staff or staff in a similar position:

·   Andrew Chin (Healthy Waters)

·   Arash Farjood (Healthy Waters)

·   Kolt Johnson (RIMU)

·   Amanda de Jong (Compliance Monitoring)

·   Andrew Benson (Specialist Input, Resource Consents)

·   Additional members of each council team as required.

52.     Staff will deliver a detailed project proposal to the Rodney Local Board.

53.     Staff will engage the community and update them on the approach.

Ngā tāpirihanga


There are no attachments for this report.    

Ngā kaihaina



Arash Farjood – Senior Healthy Waters Specialist

Kolt Johnson – Senior Scientist, RIMU


Barry Potter - Director Infrastructure and Environmental Services

Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



Review of dam management in Auckland

File No.: CP2021/11311




Te take mō te pūrongo

Purpose of the report

1.       Franklin Local Board Member and President of Auckland Federated Farmers Alan Cole has requested that the attached letter be put on the agenda for discussion.

Whakarāpopototanga matua

Executive summary

2.       Adrian Wilson, Manager Proactive Compliance in the Council’s Regulatory and Compliance Department will be in attendance to provide context and answer questions


Ngā tūtohunga


That the Rural Advisory Panel:

a)      receive the report.


Ngā tāpirihanga






Letter from Auckland Council regarding dam management



Ngā kaihaina



Adrian Wilson, Manager Proactive Compliance


Warren Maclennan – Lead Officer


Rural Advisory Panel

06 August 2021



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[1][1] Carryer and Associates Ltd. 1994. Unknown title. Reviewed and accepted by Auckland Regional Council.


Carrier and Associates Ltd. 1994. Day and Locke Farms Ltd proposed work programme for further investigations.

[2] Fowler, A.M., 2021. Central Auckland Rainfall, 1853-2020: towards a homogeneous record. Journal of Hydrology (NZ) 60(1): 25-47.