Te Mana o te Wai Fund

Applications are currently closed

Te Mana o te Wai Fund supports tangata whenua to better participate in the management of freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and wetlands.

Funds have been fully allocated. There are no further funding rounds planned.

Amount funded

$30 million over 3 years from 2021

Te Mana o te Wai

When our waterways are healthy they:

  • support our communities
  • are sources of safe, secure water for people 
  • provide opportunities for people to play, gather food, and work.

Te Mana o te Wai refers to the vital importance of water.

  • It is about ensuring that the health and well-being of the water is protected and human health needs are provided for before enabling other uses of water.
  • It expresses the special connection all New Zealanders have with freshwater.

Regional councils, communities and tangata whenua will determine how Te Mana o te Wai is applied locally in freshwater management through engagement and discussion.

The concept of Te Mana o Te Wai is central to the Government’s Essential Freshwater policies and regulations introduced in 2020.

Role of tangata whenua in freshwater management

Under the Government’s Essential Freshwater policies and regulations, tangata whenua have a greater role in management of freshwater lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and wetlands.

Local authorities are required to actively involve tangata whenua (to the extent they wish to be involved) in freshwater management including decision-making processes. 

To assist with this work, the Te Mana of te Wai Fund is supporting tangata whenua to:

  • build capacity and capability of Māori to participate in and make decisions about freshwater management alongside councils
  • support Māori to improve the health of freshwater bodies of importance to them
  • create nature-based employment opportunities for Māori.

Since 2021, 34 iwi, hapū, whānau, marae and Māori rōpū have received Te Mana o te Wai funding.

Funded projects

Find out about projects that received funding in 2021 and 2022 to support this work.

This list will be updated as more projects are announced.

Funding recipient

 Project description Te Mana o te Wai funding


 Te Tai Tokerau/Northland


Te Paatu ki Kauhanga Trust Board

The Peria River Restoration project supports Te Paatu hapū to improve the health of the Peria and Oruru rivers and increase their ability to engage with the local catchment and Northland Regional Council on freshwater management and decision-making. $180,553.00

Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board

The Te Mauri o te Wai o Pukekauri project supports Patuharakeke Te Iwi to build capacity and capability to engage with Whangārei District Council and Northland Regional Council in freshwater management decision making for the Pukekauri dam and contributing awa.


Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea Trust

Te Waka Pupuri Pūtea Trust supported by Northland Regional Council will deliver the Me He Wai project. They will engage with marae, hapū, and landowners (predominately Māori) to implement Te Mana o Te Wai across  Te Rarawa  rohe, monitor waterways and collect data to support the council’s Regional Freshwater Plan.


Ngāti Aukiwa Charitable Trust and Waimahana Marae

Ngāti Aukiwa hapū plan to protect their ancestral Waiariki awa through the Waimahana Marae Wai Ora project. Their rangatahi and kaitiaki will learn how to monitor the awa for water quality and engage with the Northland Regional and Far North District Councils in future decisions on freshwater management within the hapū rohe.


Ngāti Rangi ki Ngawha

Me he wai tā tīeke: wai monitoring and management builds Ngāti Rangi Hapū ki Ngawha capacity and capability to articulate Te Mana o Te Wai within their rohe. Through wānanga they will develop a long-term management plan unique to their tikanga and kawa while also creating wai-based employment opportunities.


Ngāti Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Māori

The Ngā Kaitiaki o Ngā Wai Te Mana o Te Wai project supports hapū kaitiaki, whānau and iwi to make decisions on the health and management of the Wairua and surrounding hapū waterways. Hapū-led plans will influence policies and implementation activities for the Northern Wairoa Unit e.g. reducing the degradation of Hikurangi repo, taonga species, tuna and their habitat.


Bay of Plenty/Waikato


Bay of Plenty Regional Council on behalf of Tauranga Moana Advisory Group Iwi Representatives


Ko WAI mātou (We are the WATER) is a two year project to develop tools and methods for data management, development of hapū spatial and catchment management plans, and increasing hapū and iwi capability to participate in freshwater management and decision making. This includes direct investment into jobs to support this work.


Te Arawa River Iwi Trust

The project supports Te Arawa aspirations and decision making for their rohe (the upper Waikato River catchment), in co-designing management plans with the Waikato River Authority and the Waikato Regional Council. They aim to incorporate Māori cultural values and build strong partnerships.


Ngāti Tahu Ngāti Whaoa Runanga Trust

Nā te Puna o Pueto ki te Awa o Waikato project supports iwi members improve the health of Pueto stream and mahinga kai sites so they can eventually revive traditional practices of harvesting kai from the awa. They will partner with Waikato Regional Council, Taupo District Council, Rotorua Lakes Council and Wairakei Pastoral Estate.



Tūwharetoa Māori Trust Board

The Oranga Taiao Oranga Tūwharetoa project will enhance the transfer of water monitoring functions by developing a cultural monitoring framework for the Waikato River water quality and geothermal monitoring systems. Tūwharetoa will fast track implementation by upskilling iwi members. 


Raukawa Charitable Trust and Tangata Marae

The project enables iwi and hapū members to develop and implement plans that include restoring and sustaining their taonga species – the world’s only freshwater bio-luminescent limpet (Putangi/Latia Neritoides) and tuna species. Mātauranga Māori, maramataka Māori, science advice and technical governance will inform the implementation of Te Mana o Te Wai.


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao Trust

The Rotoiti te Moana Mauri Monitoring project creates a template for holistic monitoring and reporting of changes in te mauri o te wai, starting with Rotoiti. To ensure wide outreach and uptake, the mauri-based monitoring tool will be hosted on several websites: Te Runanga O Ngāti Pikiao, Te Tatau O Te Arawa, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.


Ngāti Pikiao Environmental Society Inc

The project supports Ngāti Pikiao to reconnect, revive and enhance their mātauranga Māori values and approaches to management of their extensive waterways - the Pongakawa river, Waihi Estuary and Lake Rotoiti – to become capable kaitiaki actively collaborating on decisions with Bay of Plenty Council and other project partners.


Te Arawa Lakes Trust

A team will be established to empower and support Tarawera Iwi to work with others to enhance the wellbeing of the Tarawera lakes system. This includes building the skills to collaborate on council decision-making, to apply mātauranga Māori, and to articulate cultural values in environmental management, monitoring and communication. 


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whakaue ki Maketū Inc

The project supports whānau, hapū and iwi to participate in planning for and managing the Waihi estuary and the inflowing rivers (Wharere, Kaikokopu and Pongakawa). A co-designed educational environmental programme based on Mātauranga -a -Iwi and mahinga kai practices aims to engage rangatahi in managing freshwater health.


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Manawa

The iwi will develop a Ngāti Manawa freshwater plan by providing support to assess, monitor, evaluate and identify actions for the health of Rangitaiki awa and tributaries, including tuna and koura habitats. Iwi members will receive training in monitoring and data collection and work alongside NIWA to assess feasibility of the construction of tuna restoration ponds. 


Ngāti Te Wai Hapū Settlement Trust

The Mauri o te Wai project supports a proactive role for the hapū in managing the biodiversity, taiao and waterways in their Tauranga Moana (Bay of Plenty) rohe. They will establish an environmental services team and build a governance and water management framework to be used by iwi/hapū to influence Council and aid decision-making. 


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa

Enhancing the Mana and Mauri of our Waterways supports the design, trial, implementation, monitoring and assessment of a tool to measure the mauri of three rivers: Whakatāne, Rangitāiki and Tarawera. Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa aims to collect cultural and historical knowledge including baseline data on cultural flows and the current state of water (ki uta, ki tai). 


Ngāti Ranginui Iwi Society Inc

The Tuna Ora Wai Ora project enables Ngāti Ranginui to restore a tuna habitat to its natural form and work with Tauranga hydro-stations. Freshwater health and quality is improved by the life cycle of tuna allowing the water body to return to a safe ecosystem for mahinga kai and recreational use. An oversight and governance team will implement the project through engagement and policy reviews.


Tairawhiti/Te Matau a Maui


Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou

Te Rūnanganui o Ngāti Porou will support Ngāti Porou hapu to work with the Gisborne District Council to incorporate Te Mana o te Wai and mātauranga Ngāti Porou through the co-development of the Waiapu Catchment Plan to promote cultural, social and economic prosperity.


Pohaturoa Trust

A Fresh Water Management Strategy will identify the key pou / pillars for Pohaturoa Trust to manage water on their whenua. Hapū members will learn about freshwater management processes, data collection and the skills for contributing to a long-term vision.


Te Iwi o Rakaipaaka Inc

Ngāti Rakaipaaka will create a strategic freshwater management plan; work with marae, whānau, hapū on a vision for Te Mana o te Wai that will be shared with Hawke’s Bay Regional Council; and monitor and collect matauranga and data on seven water bodies in their rohe.


Ngāti Pāhauwera Development Trust

The Kaitiaki Taiao project enables Ngāti Pāhauwera’s people, mātauranga and science to be developed through employment, wānanga, cultural assessment and restoration to define and develop Te Mana o te Wai in its rohe.


Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga

The project supports tangata whenua training to test, develop and use the cultural framework Nga Pou Mataara Hou to lead monitoring and assessment of mauri in Heretaunga surface waters including Tukituki, Ngaruroro and Karamū Rivers.


Rongomaiwahine Iwi Trust

The project supports a whānau, hapū, iwi led freshwater framework for the health of water bodies within Te Mahia peninsula. Aspirations and knowledge from iwi and non-Māori
(including engagement with Council) and a monitoring programme will drive priorities and the pathway for planning, environmental investment, co-operation and outcomes for Te Mahia.


Te Taiwhenua o Te Whanganui a Orotū

The project supports the establishment of a team to develop a Te Mana o te Wai plan for Ahuriri estuary and water bodies in Ahuriri rohe. They will gather, share and facilitate mātauranga from hapū and pakeke and develop a cultural monitoring and evaluation framework including historical accounts relating to Te Whanganui a Orotū mātauranga wai.




Heeni Investment Company Ltd

A mitigation strategy identifying human impacts on taonga species is one of the planned activities to improve the health and well-being of Mōuri Awa, Mōuri Whenua, and Mōuri Tāngata. The Whanganui Awa hapū Ngāti Tuera and Ngāti Hinearo will develop an Integrated Farm Plan incorporating their values and reflecting intergenerational knowledge.


Ngā Puna Rau o Rangitīkei

A collaboration of five iwi (Ngāti Hauiti, Ngāi Te Ohuaake, Ngāti Tamakōpiri, Ngāti Whitikaupeka, Ngā Wairiki, Ngāti Apa), the project will establish a kaitiaki team to facilitate their participation in the resource management system for the 253 kilometres of the Rangitīkei Awa and integrate their mātauranga Māori into the plans and policies.


Te Kāhui o Rauru

Te Wai Koi Ora - Rivers of Ngaa Rauru project includes tertiary educational support and cadetships in farm management in its plans for long-term improvements to key water bodies in the rohe. A project team trained in regional council and processes and fieldwork including groundwater mapping will also contribute to the revision of the environmental monitoring plan. 


Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Hinemanu me Ngāti Pakiki Mokai Patea Incorporated


The Cultural Monitoring of Hautapu Awa and Catchment project focuses on the health and preservation of Winiata, Taihape, Hautapu rivers and receiving environments. Activities include water quality testing, a website to capture and communicate a mana whenua vision, and upskilling to better understand wastewater and potable water infrastructure issues.


Muaūpoko Tribal Authority

This project supports Muaūpoko to build their capacity and capability in relation to freshwater management, through the establishment of a project team to lead and support operations, the development and implementation of a training programme and the establishment of networks to assist Muaūpoko with access to mātauranga Māori and technical advice when needed/required.




Tū Mai Rā Rangitāne

This project supports Rangitāne to build their capacity and capability to measure, monitor and evaluate the quality of freshwater bodies in the Rangitāne rohe, while ensuring that mātauranga Māori informs all their freshwater strategies. This will be done through the establishment of a project team and the development and strengthening of relationships with those who hold collective responsibility, to improve the quality of waimāori in their takiwā.


Wai-worx Limited

This project will support a Waiora-Waitī management plan to support and guide policy and changes for the Wellington takiwā. Wai-Worx Ltd will carry out this mahi and have the support of Te Ati Awa ki te Ūpoko o te Ika a Maui. Iwi and hapū members will be engaged in the development of this tool. Interns will be brough on to assist with this mahi, supporting iwi and hapū succession planning.


Te Waipounamu


Mana Tāhuna Charitable Trust


Building capacity and capability will enable mana whenua to contribute towards freshwater decision making and management in the Tāhuna (Queenstown) district, with a particular focus on Te Wai Whakaata (Lake Hayes) catchment. It aims to strengthen relationships between whānau in Tāhuna, the seven local Rūnaka, local authorities, landowners and community, to work together on a long-term vision for the catchment.


Ngāti Tama ki te Waipounamu Trust


Te Tau Ihu Iwi Collective  

The project supports the eight iwi of Te Tauihu (top of the South Island) to identify and build the resources and capacity to co-design with council implementation strategies, policies and plans that enhance and protect Māori values in Te Taiao management, including waiora.