This document presents findings from a two-year-long project that examined how well public organisations are managing water resources and delivering water-related services for the benefit of New Zealanders now and in the years to come. Given the significance of water issues, the authors expected to find:
- clear national strategies, objectives, and priorities that are reflected in regional and local strategies and planning documents.
- coherent work programmes that logically and consistently prioritise resources and activities, and improve collaboration between local and central government and non-governmental organisations..
- robust systems at national, regional, and local levels for gathering information and reporting on water management issues that are used to deliver continuous improvement.
- resourcing, planning, and strategic risk management that reflect the complexity, scale, and time frame of the issues that need to be addressed.
- strong engagement models with communities of interest and, in particular, Māori.
Although much good work is being done, all of these elements were not in place. Findings suggest that public organisations were trying to do the right thing while working with the resources they have, within the limits of their own roles and responsibilities, and in a context of increasing complexity and uncertainty. However, there is no clear agreement across central and local government about the vision for New Zealand’s water resources – the issues, objectives, and priorities for water management over the long term that all organisations, public and private, should seek to address. For public organisations to manage water well, they need to know what they are trying to achieve and to monitor progress towards those goals.