The special tribunal to consider the Waikoropupū Springs application for a Water Conservation Order (WCO) has been announced today by Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The Waikoropupū Springs are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and contain the clearest water measured anywhere in the world. I announced last month I had accepted Ngāti Tama and Andrew Yuill’s application for consideration of a WCO to ensure these iconic waters are properly protected for future generations,” Dr Smith says.

“The appointment of this panel will enable the application to be progressed, and a thorough public submission and hearings process to be held to ensure we get the detail right.

A WCO is the highest protection possible for a water body, and the equivalent of National Park status. There are nationwide covering 13 rivers and two lakes, with this being the first application advanced for a springs. A WCO overrides any other planning instrument and requires the identified features or characteristics to be protected in perpetuity.

The five-member panel comprises:

Camilla Owen (chair): A Nelson barrister involved in environmental law, Ms Owen is an accredited Resource Management Act (RMA) decision maker. Bob Dickinson: Previously Tasman District Council chief executive for 17 years, during which time he oversaw development and implementation of resource management plans. Lewis Metcalfe: An agricultural policy and sustainability advisor with a farming background. Che Wilson: Former chief negotiator for the Ngāti Rangi Trust and Deputy Secretary Māori at the Ministry for the Environment. Mr Wilson has also worked at the Department of Conservation. Professor Jon Harding: Prof Harding is Dean of Postgraduate Research for Stream Ecology at Canterbury University, and was a member of the Board of Inquiry into the Freshwater NPS.

“The panel has a strong mix of environmental, legal, water science, local government, tikanga Māori and primary industry knowledge to ensure we get a quality outcome for Golden Bay and New Zealand,” Dr Smith says.

Public submissions on the WCO application will be called in September, with hearings scheduled for later this year. The special tribunal will then make a recommendation to the Minister for the Environment, which can be appealed to the Environment Court. The final decision, expected next year, will be made by the Minister for the Environment.


For more information about Water Conservation Orders visit:

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