Media release

Media release: Submissions opening on ORC’s freshwater provisions

Thursday 29 September 2022

Submissions open tomorrow on the freshwater parts of the Otago Regional Council’s proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement – and will close on 29 November.

Following a High Court direction, the ORC resolved on 15 September that only part of the proposed Otago Regional Policy Statement (pORPS) relates to freshwater, with those parts required to be re-notified for public submission.

The pORPS is the cornerstone document for the ORC’s forthcoming Land and Water Regional Plan, which itself is required to be publicly notified by December 2023.

The requirement to split the pORPS has resulted in about 45 provisions considered to relate directly to the management of freshwater quality or quantity, with those provisions forming the freshwater part of the pORPS, says ORC’s General Manager, Policy and Science, Anita Dawe.

Because of the High Court decision, any person who submitted on the identified freshwater provisions must resubmit on those parts for their submissions to be able to be considered, she says.

“We’re encouraging all those people who submitted last year on the now identified freshwater provisions to make new submissions.”


Freshwater waterway


“Those submissions can mirror the points submitters made last year, or have new, different or additional points. The submission process is available to everyone however, irrespective of whether you submitted last year” Ms Dawe says. 

“It’s really important people have their say now as this [pORPS] feeds into the Land and Water Regional Plan, which is a defining document for Otago’s land and freshwater environment,” she says.

The balance of the pORPS, being the non-freshwater parts, are not required to be re-notified. All submissions on the provisions in the non-freshwater part of the pORPS remain in place. The non-freshwater part of the pORPS is the larger of the two documents.


Waterway freshwater


Access to the freshwater parts of pORPS is at, or from ORC offices in Dunedin or Queenstown, and district and city council offices. Further questions can be directed to ORC’s customer services on 0800 474 082.

Any submission must be in Form 5 and state whether the submitter wants to be heard in support of their submission. Form 5 can be found at


Why is there a new submission process?

In June 2021, ORC publicly notified its pORPS, determining at the that time the whole of the pORPS was a ‘freshwater planning instrument’. Declarations on that definition were then sought in the High Court by ORC and Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand.

The High Court’s decision in July found the ORC erred in determining that the whole of its pORPS was a freshwater instrument, and directed the ORC split the pORPS into two parts; those which relate to freshwater and those which do not.

This is why submissions are again being sought on the freshwater provisions.


Inclusion of other objectives

Of significance, in terms of the management of freshwater within Otago, at a recent meeting Councillors approved the freshwater parts of the pORPS and determined, among others, that the objective expressing Te Mana o te Wai and the associated policy setting out the decision-making priorities, as well as the long-term visions for the Freshwater Management Units and rohe related to freshwater and should be included in the provisions to be renotified.


Non-freshwater provisions hearing

For the non freshwater parts of the pORPS, submitters do not need to resubmit, and can expect a Minute from the Hearings Panel shortly. That Minute will set out timetabling and evidence exchange timeframes.

The hearings panel was appointed on 24 August and comprises Chairman Ron Crosby, alongside Commissioners Allan Cubitt, Rauru Kirikiri and Bianca Sullivan. They have been appointed to hear and make recommendations on all the non-freshwater parts. Arrangements for the hearing are underway and submitters will be advised of these early in October.