The Community Waterways Partnership supports the development of community-based initiatives to improve the ecological health, indigenous biodiversity and amenity value of our urban waterways.

The Community Waterways Partnership Charter

The Partnership is looking to involve the Council, Canterbury Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Ministry for the Environment, Canterbury District Health Board, universities, schools, industry representatives, river care and other community groups.

Our vision

A collaborative partnership that supports the development of community-based initiatives to improve the ecological health, indigenous biodiversity and the amenity value of our urban waterways.

Purpose of this charter

This charter is a shared statement of intent among community groups, researchers, businesses, and local, regional and central government. We are seeking to work in partnership under a Charter to achieve outcomes that cannot be attained independently.  We will do this by sharing expertise, networks and resources to promote and achieve solutions needed to improve the ecological health, indigenous biodiversity and amenity value of our urban waterways. We uphold Te Mana o Te Wai to actively protect and enhance the mauri of Christchurch urban waterways.

This Charter is a statement of intent to work in partnership.  It imposes no binding authority, decision or obligation on partners. Each signatory partner remains autonomous, and none is bound by the Charter in undertaking its everyday activities. The partnership is not a new formal structure or organisation.


Christchurch has many passionate community groups who are already working to, and desire to further protect and improve their local waterways. Activities involving local communities and schools, with support through the partnership, will bring about behaviour changes, at individual, household and community level, to stop contaminants entering stormwater and waterways, and degrading water quality.

The Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) was established in 2009 and sets a framework for a collaborative approach to managing freshwater in Canterbury. The Christchurch West Melton Zone Committee and Banks Peninsula Zone Committee were established to help implement the CWMS in the Christchurch area. The role of these committees is to work collaboratively with the community to make recommendations to Environment Canterbury and Christchurch City Council. 

The Christchurch West Melton Zone Committee has identified stormwater as a priority issue. Untreated, contaminated urban stormwater is a major environmental problem for waterways. Routine water quality monitoring of Christchurch’s urban waterways reveals regular exceedances for contaminants above guideline levels. Water quality varies considerably across and within catchments. Monitoring identifies areas that need to be improved, and it will take time and everyone working together to make a positive difference. 

Municipal stormwater treatment infrastructure alone will not address this water quality problem, it also needs communities to actively prevent pollution in the first place. To achieve community action requires communities to be aware of the issues and the actions that they can undertake. Given that in 2017, only 55% of Christchurch residents surveyed were aware that stormwater from roads and properties mostly leads to waterways, there is a need for community awareness-raising and engagement initiatives.  

Benefits of a community waterways partnership

  • Reducing barriers to positive action
  • Increasing coordination, sharing and communication
  • Increasing ability to source funding and resources
  • Increasing consistency of key messages to share with the wider community
  • Having a collective voice to be more influential 
  • Having a coordinated response across catchments, sectors and stakeholders
  • Increasing support for community groups and organisations
  • Increasing efficiencies by facilitating the sharing of resources
  • Providing potential for collective advocacy
  • Advocating as one voice for appropriate action from local, regional and central government and businesses
  • Identifying gaps and initiating projects to address these
  • Increasing the ability to resource a behaviour change, education and awareness-raising programme
  • Improving capacity and capability
  • Sharing risk


We will work together to:

  1. Establish a strong collaborative partnership between community groups, businesses, researchers, and local, regional and central government
  2. Achieve consensus on messaging interwoven with appropriate cultural narrative, and market these with an innovative package of shared and consistent material suitable for a variety of audiences 
  3. Develop a network of trained people to deliver the key messages professionally and consistently
  4. Design and implement stormwater, habitat and water conservation educational resources to supplement existing resources for use in schools and community events
  5. Advocate for incentives that enable community implementation of positive stormwater, habitat and water conservation actions and solutions 
  6. Establish and facilitate a network of water care champions and kaitiaki
  7. Advocate for national legislative change to better address stormwater contaminants
  8. Develop research to evaluate outcomes and improvements in our knowledge of best practice community interventions
  9. Establish, facilitate or support projects to deliver these outcomes
  10. Advocate for resources to sustain the partnership and deliver these outcomes


The Community Waterways Partnership Charter was five years in the making.

By signing the charter organisations agree to work together, sharing expertise and resources, to improve the ecological health, biodiversity and recreational value of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula's urban waterways. Below is a list of organisations that have signed the charter, alongside Christchurch City Council.


  • Avon Ōtākaro Network
  • Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust
  • Christchurch West Melton Water Management Zone Committee
  • Citycare Water
  • Davis Ogilvie & Partners Ltd
  • Drinkable Rivers
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Estuary Trust
  • GHD engineering
  • Greening the Red Zone
  • Ilam school
  • Little Kiwis Nature Play
  • Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
  • Ōpāwaho Heathcote River Network
  • Red Tree Environmental Solutions Ltd
  • Roimata Food Commons
  • Shirley Boys High School
  • St Albans Residents Association (SARA) Inc
  • Sustainable Coastlines
  • Waihora Ellesmere Trust
  • Waitakiri Ecosanctuary Trust
  • Water and Wildlife Habitat Trust
  • Whaka-Ora Healthy Harbour Partnership
  • WSP New Zealand

If your organisation is interested in becoming a partner to the Community Waterways please contact us via email at