Implementation of the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW) in August 2020 has affected game bird hunters by limiting what you can do to build and maintain maimais. 

Fish & Game has strongly advocated changing these rules with the Government as they impact game bird hunters; you can check our points here.  

Under the NES-FW, if in a natural wetland, maimai are deemed a Wetland Utility Structure, and activities involving them have now become very complex. Because of this complexity, to learn what you can or can’t do, you will have to contact the Regional and District Councils that manage the wetland that concerns you.  

It’s important to note that the rules only apply to natural wetlands rather than constructed farm ponds, but as above check with your regional and/or district councils as their plans may be more far-ranging.  

What then is a natural wetland? The NES-FW states:

A natural wetland means a wetland (as defined in the Act) that is not:

  • a wetland constructed by artificial means (unless it was constructed to offset impacts on, or restore, an existing or former natural wetland); or
  • a geothermal wetland; or
  • any area of improved pasture that, at the commencement date, is dominated by (that is more than 50% of) exotic pasture species and is subject to temporary rain derived water pooling.  

If your maimai is in a natural wetland (not out in a lake or river), the NES-FW places severe limits on what you can and can’t do to it and the surrounding environment. Broadly speaking, under the NES-FW vegetation clearance, land disturbance or earthworks associated with constructing a new maimai will require a Resource Consent.

But the same activities when maintaining an existing maimai can be a permitted activity that would require you to notify the relevant council prior to commencing work. This is impractical for hunters and anyone wanting to manage a natural wetland.  

Fish & Game is working hard for clarity on this issue as we believe many hunters will be put off from making wetland improvements if the rules stay as they are. 

To access the Government's webpage on Wetlands: implementation guidance on Essential Freshwater policies and regulation click here.