About the funding

Since the Essential Freshwater reforms were introduced in 2020 we have been putting in place systems and processes to assist freshwater restoration and protection. Now our focus is shifting to providing more people and professionals with knowledge and skills to make the reforms happen

In 2022 the Ministry identified people and organisations to help develop projects that improve capability and capacity within the freshwater management system. We worked with the Ministry for Primary Industries to seek out projects to fund.

The projects chosen are helping to upskill, train and provide information and tools for:

  • people in community groups
  • tangata whenua
  • regional and unitary councils
  • rural advisory businesses and other organisations.

All projects are funded for three years from 2022.

The Essential Freshwater Fund is part of the $1.219 billion Jobs for Nature funding programme.

Our partnerships

Our partnerships have been both internal and external, with a mix of private and public groups and organisations.

These include:

  • Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust
  • National Iwi Chairs Forum Pou Taiao
  • New Zealand Landcare Trust
  • New Zealand Association of Resource Management
  • regional councils.

Funded projects

See below a list of projects that are contracted or allocated funding from the Essential Freshwater Fund. 

This list will be updated as more projects are announced.

Project Name Recipient Name Project Description EFF Funding  
Capability and capacity builder for resource management New Zealand Association of Resource Management Incorporated The project aims to gain a clear understanding of the current capability of individuals within regions. Understand each region and catchments’ capability and capacity needs through working with regional councils, community groups and Iwi organisations. Provide targeted, context-based training and qualifications to build capability to match the regional needs and support career development, with a target of providing training and mentoring to over 400 people over 3 years. Provide a nationally supported register of capability that allows, councils, catchment groups and farmers to connect to the right expertise. $1,339,600.00   
Building the 'ag' into the 'enviro' Lincoln University The project will develop a professional development programme that aims to provide non-agricultural students with the contextual knowledge and capability to apply their skills with farmers to support implementation of the Essential Freshwater reforms.   $270,440.00   
Growing Change Horticulture New Zealand The project will develop, pilot, and launch a programme (Growing Change) to deliver the training and development needed to lift the capability and capacity of growers, advisors, and auditors across the sector to deliver credible Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFPs) as an extension of the industry assurance programmes being used and as individual plans. $5,147,214.00   
Aotearoa Catchment Extension (ACE) Project - Landcare NZ Landcare Trust The Aotearoa Catchment Extension (ACE) initiative proposal is to deliver a nationwide capability development programme to 12 regions through four learning hubs to improve the capability of people working with catchment groups, including those who are leading and coordinating them.
A national database of resources and information will also be developed and regionally based communities of practice will be established to target capability building work to regional needs and priorities. 
Nitrogen Management Indicator for Arable Systems Foundation for Arable Research This project seeks to improve nitrogen (N) use efficiency on arable farms and in doing so directly reduce the amount of nitrate-N and improve freshwater quality as a result.
The project will undertake applied research and trials with multiple crops and in different locations to develop a nutrient management indicator to reflect the risk of N loss from both arable crops and the wider farm system. This indicator will also inform the on-farm actions required to manage the risks associated with nitrate loss.
Guidelines will be developed to inform the use of the indicator and workshops and training for growers and rural professionals/advisers will be provided as part of the project to encourage uptake.
Enhancing catchments and their communities Massey University This project will demonstrate to catchment communities the effectiveness of novel edge-of-field technologies at minimising contaminant losses to freshwater within three catchments and develop extension and educational packages that share expert knowledge, tools, and skills with farmers, landowners, and their associated rural professionals to identify, design, and construct them more broadly. $3,000,000.00   
Fish Passage Action Plans National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited This work will deliver fish passage action plans in priority areas and support improvement in capability for the delivery and implementation of additional plans. $4,000,000.00   
Integrated Catchment Management Plans Multiple (TBC) This work will deliver integrated catchment management plans in priority areas and support improvement in capability and capacity to establish and lead new catchment groups to implement the plans. $2,000,000.00   
Access to experts Multiple (TBC) This work will establish a panel of experts to be available to provide advice to improve sustainable land management, set limits and support developing plans by 2024. $10,000,000.00   
Collective Action Catchments Dairy NZ The project is focused on improving the capability of farmers, advisors, and technical experts through the delivery of practical tools/interventions on-farm and demonstrating their effectiveness within catchments. This will help with providing greater awareness, understanding, and uptake of the interventions required to implement the actions identified through Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFPs) and achieve targeted freshwater improvements.  $3,400,000.00   
Wai Connection Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust Wai Connection aims to connect people with their local waterway and promote collaboration between catchment groups, NGO's, hapū/iwi, regional council, central government, and primary industry to help deliver on the goals of Essential Freshwater. The project will utilise and expand the existing network of catchment and regional coordinators through Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust and regional provider organisations to deliver tailored packages of support to catchment groups and communities. $18,000,000.00