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Crown investment in freshwater clean-up

Auditor-General’s report, Crown investment in freshwater clean-up


The Auditor-General’s report Crown investment in freshwater clean-up was presented to the House of Representatives today.

For this report, we looked at four freshwater clean-up funds managed by the Ministry for the Environment. Our primary objective was to assess whether Crown funding was being used effectively to improve freshwater quality. Collectively, the four funds we looked at are due to provide more than $190 million of investment from 2008 to 2032.

Parliament and the public rightly expect that any investment in freshwater clean-up will make the best use of available funding. Although each fund was able to demonstrate some progress towards their intended outcomes, the Ministry cannot yet demonstrate the overall effectiveness of its freshwater clean-up funds. Therefore, it is difficult to tell whether the money invested has been targeted as effectively as it could have been.

However, the Ministry has progressively improved its administration of freshwater clean-up funds through applying knowledge and experience from managing earlier funds. We saw a range of innovative practices, such as harvesting lake weeds and projects aimed at supporting iwi relationships with their awa and other waterways.

In our view, it is likely that the overall Crown investment would have been more effective if a more co-ordinated approach had been taken. The Ministry’s ability to effectively manage freshwater investment has been further limited because there is no national freshwater clean-up framework to guide clean-up efforts.

We are encouraged by a report from the Ministry and the Ministry for Primary Industries, Essential Freshwater: Healthy Water, Fairly Allocated, published in October 2018. The report discusses implementing a framework for freshwater policy to give the Government clearly defined goals to work towards. We endorse the recommendation to implement a national framework or strategy.

This report is also available as an epub and a one-page summary.

We’re making it easier to share our work – you can find hi-res images and figures in our media kit.


Our observations on Waikato River Authority's freshwater restoration operations

We’ve also published a management letter that we sent to the Waikato River Authority outlining our observations on the Authority’s approach to freshwater clean-up and the associated challenges.


We’d like your feedback: Our website includes a feedback form. Please tell us if you found our information useful.

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