Developing a new land and water regional plan for Otago

Our waterways support all life in Otago from threatened native wildlife, the mahika kai we collect and  swimming holes we love, to how we earn our living, and enjoy clean drinking water. The health of some Otago waterways is excellent, but others need improving.

Over the next two years we need your help to develop a new Land and Water Plan so all our waterways can be healthy and safe, from the mountains to the sea or ki uta ki tai.

Click here to see how the new plan fits into our existing plans and policy statements.

The Government’s goal is to improve water quality within one generation, and puts this responsibility with regional councils, including ORC, and communities. ​The time to start this journey together is now.

From November 2021 until early 2023, we’ll visit communities to seek your knowledge and views on local waterways. 

To ensure a holistic environmental management approach that takes into account the different environments in the region, Otago has been divided into Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) called Mata-au FMU, Taieri FMU, North Otago FMU, Dunedin Coast FMU and Catlins FMU. Due to the size of the Mata-au FMU, it has been split into five sub-units, or “rohe” which means "area" in Te Reo.

The menu on your left details the FMUs and rohe we’ll be visiting. We are currently consulting with communities in the Upper Lakes Rohe and Catlins FMU areas. 

Your goals and preferences for local waterways, combined with the science we’ve collected, and input from iwi, will guide how ORC proposes to manage water and land in your area.

So, whether you are an angler, a swimmer, a farmer, a food gatherer, or you just love our waterways, come and tell us what you want to see in Otago’s new Land and Water Plan.

Find out more below, including how to get involved, frequently asked questions, more about your region and what’s next. Or click on your FMU or rohe (left) for more detailed information.

How can the community be involved?

Together, ORC and Kāi Tahu will meet and work with catchment groups, industry groups, subject experts, and communities around Otago in 2021 and 2022 to develop a new Land and Water Plan.

We want to hear from you about land and water resources in your area, to learn what you know about your catchment, and to share what we know from the science. We will also discuss options for managing rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater in your area. Online feedback will also be available.

Otago Regional Council Land and Water Regional Plan FMU map


A timeline of when we will be in your area is below (click on the timeline to enlarge or download it).


  • Confirm values and discuss their characteristics (to inform the setting of environmental outcomes).
  • Present environmental outcomes and management options to achieve these.
  • Present and discuss a preferred management option.
  • The whole proposed Land and Water Regional Plan will be notified and the public can make submissions.


Next Steps

There will be a follow-up meeting in each FMU (Freshwater Management Unit) and rohe when ORC and Kāi Tahu will discuss a preferred approach to water and land management with each community. It’s important we hear from communities before that point, so that the draft reflects your input. 

The preferred approach will then be drafted into the FMU and rohe chapters of the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. 

Once the full proposed plan is notified in December 2023, anyone can make a submission saying what they like or don’t like about the proposed plan.


How can you stay up-to-date?

We’ll be sharing project updates and information on this webpage and in our monthly newsletter On-Streamsign up here.

Contact ORC at or 0800 474 082.

You can also contact your local ORC councillor here.


Find out what is happening in your area and when

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, ORC must achieve integrated management of the natural and physical resources of the region, including control over the use of land and freshwater. This is done through the development of regional plans. We currently have a Waste Plan to manage some waste matters, and a Water Plan to manage freshwater and some land uses, but these are now out-of-date.

In 2019, following an independent review of our regional plans, the Minister for the Environment directed us to prepare a new Regional Policy Statement (which was notified in June 2021) and a new Land and Water Regional Plan to be notified by the end of 2023.

The New Zealand government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 requires that all freshwater management plans give effect to Te Mana o te Wai.

Te Mana o te Wai is respecting and looking after the water, so the water can look after you. It also recognises that mana whenua, councils, water users and the wider community all have a role in managing freshwater.

The new land and water plan will be based on a whole-of-catchment approach (ki uta ki tai) that is consistent with Te Mana o te Wai, and prioritises the health and wellbeing of waterbodies.

You can read more about Te Mana o te Wai and how it was drafted with our iwi partners in Otago in ORC’s proposed Regional Policy Statement.

ORC works in partnership with Kāi Tahu, recognising their important relationship with land and water across the region.

On this project, we are reviewing the existing water and waste plans and developing a new Land and Water Regional Plan for Otago with Kāi Tahu. This means working together at staff and governance levels, supporting each other with science and monitoring, and presenting together at community meetings.

The new plan will set clear environmental outcomes with input from communities, as well as rules and limits on resource use to achieve these. The new plan will address climate change, resource needs and over-allocation of water.

The plan will be further refined through plan changes over time, including adding provisions related to topics such as groundwater limits, wetlands protection and high-risk land uses.

It will include a range of activities that are permitted, and a range of activities that will require resource consent from ORC. Some activities that have not been managed by ORC in the past may now need a consent in the new plan.

The plan will also actively manage some land uses for the first timeRules in the new plan will apply to freshwater in or from lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands and groundwater. There will be some rules that apply to the whole region, and others that only apply in some areas, called Freshwater Management Units (FMUs) and rohe.

FMUs are catchments or groups of catchments that ORC will use to manage freshwater and land. The Clutha Mata-au FMU is further divided into five rohe (areas). You can see a map of these here.

Click on the topographic button (bottom left-hand corner) and zoom in to be able to see named area.

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