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New Zealand Pastoral Industry Environmental Programmes and their Relevance to Lakes Water Quality issues in the Rotorua Area

John Paterson1, Tony Pearse2 and Christina Grogan 3

1 Sustainable Farming Advisor, Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Rotorua, Email
Producer Manager, Deer Industry New Zealand, Email
Product Development Manager,Meat & Wool New Zealand Limited,


Two New Zealand farming industry programs (The New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Landcare Manual and Meat and Wool New Zealand’s Land and Environment Plan) have the potential to build into third-party audited and creditable programs to assist in the restoration of water quality in the Rotorua Lakes. Building on this strong industry-owned base will help address one of New Zealand’s most topical environmental issues - the degrading water quality in most of the central North Island lakes, in particular the collection of lakes around Rotorua. Water quality decline in the Rotorua Lakes is linked to nutrient-loss, primarily Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P) from pastoral farming activity and residential sewage. Controversial regulatory measures have been introduced by the local Regional Council, to arrest increasing nutrient-loss rates from farming (Rule 11) and Lakes Action Plans are being implemented to restore the water quality of these lakes. Both the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Landcare Manual (DFLM) and Meat and Wool New Zealand’s Land and Environment Plan (LEP) require further development to meet Environmental Management Systems (EMS) compatible standards of auditing, monitoring and reporting. This paper describes the development of these two programs, and highlights how formal Stewardship Management Agreements with the Regional Council may lead to better farmer engagement with the Rotorua Lakes water quality issues and potentially reduce the risk of further regulatory impositions limiting farming capability in the lakes catchment areas.

Key Words

EMS, Landcare Manual, SMP, Land and Environmental Planning, LEP, Stewardship

1 - The New Zealand Deer Industry

A new industry creating new needs for environmental management

The modern practice of farming deer in a temperate pastoral system is a relatively new industry. The large scale commercial farming of deer started in New Zealand in the early 1970’s, and remains the world's largest and most advanced deer farming industry. The management of deer under modern farm pastoral techniques has been achieved by adaptable pioneering deer farmers through trial and error and a proactive partnership with government supported research programmes.

Deer have the potential to cause significant damage to local farm soil and water resources under some management systems due to their tendency to pace fencelines when confined. They also have a natural affinity with water and through expression of normal behaviour (wallow and play) pose the risk of damage to sensitive water and soil areas. This has been recognized as a major challenge to intensive production systems, and required forward thinking farmer responses.


The Deer Industry was the first agricultural sector in New Zealand to develop a formal industry wide quality assurance programme (DeerQA 1991) and became well known as a system of quality assurance applied from “pasture to plate”. It was initiated as a result of intensive debate on the future direction of the industry to minimise perceived threats to the marketing of deer products, venison and velvet and establish venison in particular as a unique branded NZ farmed product. DeerQA evolved through full consultation with all sectors co- coordinated through the industry-good body, The Game Industry Board (now Deer Industry New Zealand). Installing a Quality Assurance system was seen as an important factor for maintaining market access into premium value markets. There are several discrete but linked components of the DeerQA programme. A full description is available on the SAMsn website (Wharfe and Manhire 2004)

The extension of the DeerQA On-farm Programme was strongly supported by deer farmers with 2,700 registered and 1,200 – 1,300 fully accredited (out of a total of 4,300 farmers) by 1999. This programme has subsequently been adopted by the venison processing and marketing companies and incorporated as the fundamental basis for their own quality assurance programmes and standards. The “pasture to plate” approach to quality assurance was well understood by farmers who recognised that they were producing a ‘niche market’ product and that the end customers in Germany, where most product was destined to go, are particularly astute about quality. Consequently this market prescription for assured quality is the key driver to the adoption of best practices through the entire marketing chain.

Development of the Landcare Manual

The Manual (The New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Landcare Manual 2004) promotes best management practice and advocates for Sustainable Management Plans (SMPs) on deer farms. In 2000 an initiative was launched by deer farmer leaders to put together the collective anecdotal knowledge of environmental best management practices. The clear driver for this was the farmer’s concerns that the positive image of the deer industry could potentially be tarnished by the soil erosion and water quality issues seen on some farms. It was felt that a pro-active stance and development of better provisions for stewardship may avert risk of negative publicity on the unsightly practices of some and that all could learn improvements by sharing the combined experiences of best management practice. After four years of consultative development with over 100 participating deer farmers and associated professional sustainability and environment care managers, The New Zealand Deer Farmer’s Landcare Manual was launched.

The project was driven and managed from the outset by an enthusiastic group of farmers (“wearers of boots more often than suits”) from the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) who quickly established a mandate and financial support from the industry’s administrative body Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and won further funding support from a contestable government agency - The Sustainable Farming Fund (Paterson 2004). This enabled detailed surveys to be carried out to compile the experience gained from pioneering farmers. This information was categorised and compiled into a comprehensive manual.

The risk of running a project with a nucleus of enthusiasts is that they can progress rapidly with developing an ideal but leave the majority (4,500) of their colleagues behind only to discover that vital elements of practicability and majority acceptance of their ideals have been overlooked. To avoid this, promote involvement and improve receptivity through the manual’s development phase, engagement strategies were implemented that positively publicised environmental care and awareness, built role models, developed inclusiveness of both farmers and environmental agencies and normalized farmer to farmer environmental discussion. These engagement stategies ran continuously through the manual’s four year evolution.

Positive Environmental Publicity from an Awards Programme

Liaison with an existing NZ group (the Farm Environment Awards Trust) helped the deer farmers develop a strategy for positive environmental publicity (NZFEA Trust 1993). The FEA Trust leaders group generously allowed the deer industry to learn from its experiences and provided key tips for the designing of an Environmental Awards programme specifically for deer farmers. Developing widespread interest through respected leadership, role modelling and mentoring were all determined to be vital ingredients for success. An iconic industry founder and leader, the late Sir Peter Elworthy, supported the programme and made provision for an annual Premier Environmental Award. This was complimented by a number of Merit Awards provided for by sponsors from other well known commercial deer industry companies. An awards brochure is produced that profiles the full range of environmental award winners and this is disseminated to all known deer farmers.

Role Models

While an Awards Programme is a good tool for creating role models and public profile, care has to be taken that a singular ‘premier’ winner is not perceived by his peers to be an exceptional hero whose environmental practice is also seen as exceptional and so far above regular farmers that they can not readily relate to it or aspire to emulate it. For this reason the industry chose to annually create several role models, rather than one, so that most farmers were likely to be able to relate to at least one of them. Multiple and sustained role modelling was achieved by carefully profiling all the annual award winners, in a progressive manner throughout the ensuing year in the regular news magazine, Deer Industry News. This was enhanced by a series of regional field days on the winning farms where their best environmental practices could be seen in action within the context of normal working operations. The resulting conversations and building of mentor relationships between innovative farmers and their peers was important for enabling change in attitudes and then change in practices. A key message learnt was that running an awards event is not easy.

Prior to 2000, environmental subjects featuring in the industry internal media was rare. After the start of the project environmental subject matter (award winner’s case studies) was able to be introduced into every issue of the Deer Industry News. This was a deliberate strategy to normalize environmental discussion, create positive reaction, “create buzz” and subtly build anticipation in advance of the release of the Landcare Manual.

Strategy of Inclusion

The strategy of inclusion was applied to two audiences; firstly the entire rank and file of practicing deer farmers and secondly to the environmental agencies.

Initial requests for sharing practical experiences on the environmental aspects of deer farming were made to the entire deer farming industry in 2001, resulting in establishment a dedicated core of 109 experienced deer farmers who completed a series of postal surveys and personal interviews. From this information a small project working party categorized and rationalised range of environmental best management practices. This inclusive process of farmer involvement took four years but while drawn out, the time was used to advantage to build receptivity and anticipation for the eventual release of this ‘farmer owned’ document.

As well as maintaining inclusiveness throughout the manuals development stages for all farmers, there was a deliberate and careful effort to openly encourage active linkages and discussion between the deer industry and leading environmental agencies e.g. Department of Conservation, Regional Councils and NZ Fish and Game. These agencies were recognised both as important sources of knowledge on environmental matters and regulation as well as ‘watchdogs’ of environmental performance with potential bite. Positive interaction was achieved by inviting selected representatives of these agencies to serve a limited term on the judging panel for the deer farmer’s environmental awards. These selected ‘judges’ were rotated and new ones selected each year to develop an increasing network of positive linkages with personalities in the environmental agencies. This ongoing inclusiveness helps to break down preconceptions and misinformation barriers. These environmental professionals generally had little practical experience of deer farming and through this strategy of inclusion got an inside look at some of NZ’s very best operations allowing development of a positive rapport with the farming people they had met as well as the deer industry as a whole.

Negative Environmental Politics – building immunity through proactive programs?

An unexpected benefit of the deer industry’s pro-active environmental stance occurred in 2002 when NZ’s most ardent water quality environmental watch dog, the State Owned Enterprise , NZ Fish & Game organisation, launched its “Dirty Dairying” campaign to raise public awareness of the detrimental effect some of New Zealand’s farming practices were having on the country’s waterways. As Fish and Game staff had become intrinsically involved with the Deer Industry’s inclusive and open approach to environmental issues, the industry enjoyed an unofficial and unspoken immunity from damaging public criticism at a time when they could have been easily tarred with the same brush as the dairy industry.

The “Dirty Dairying” campaign posed serious risk to New Zealand’s image as a clean and green agricultural producer, concerning all farmers. Eventually the dairy marketing body, Fonterra worked with other industry stakeholders and national and regional government and developed the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord in 2003. The Accord sets target dates for achievement of environmental protection measures with a view to cleaning up rivers, streams and lakes that had been adversely affected.

Deer farmers watched the evolution of this Dirty Dairying campaign with some concern for their dairy colleagues but also with some anxiety. Deer farming is by no means immune to these issues, as deer have a well known propensity for disturbing soil and playing and lounging in waterways. The highly adverse publicity placed on the dairy industry persisted intensively for over a year and the catch-cry, ‘dirty dairying’, is still being used by environmental lobbyists and commentators to this day (National Business Review July 2009)

While this has been a public relations disaster for the New Zealand dairy farmers, ironically, it was probably one of the most important motivational factors for those involved in the fledging of deer industry’s environmental programme in 2002. There is no doubt that it inadvertently resulted in heightened interest and buy-in by deer farmers into the ownership and uptake of their pre-emptive environmental package. The key message from this is that public and transparent demonstration of environmental pro-activity by an industry can be a vital hedge against the risk of damaging environmental politics.

Enabling Change

The Deer Industry appears to have been successful in promoting change and popularizing environmental sustainability since 2000 by consistent and sustained effort using role modelling that is carefully managed through its ongoing Environmental Awards programme and profiling the leading practitioners. This method of extension and behaviour change is also used with apparent success by other agencies in New Zealand. The “Learning from Leaders” project undertaken by the FEA Trust (Perkins and Ritchie 2006) identified a number of important principles supporting leaders as role models. Leaders are:

  • THINKERS: They consider the future impacts of their actions today.
  • LINKERS: They consider the connections between different parts of the farm operation.
  • DOERS: They put systems in place to achieve their goals for sustainability.
  • LEARNERS: They access a wide range of information and support to aid their farm decision-making.

In considering these principles, and reflecting on the acknowledged success of the programme, key points required to proactively lead and engage the deer industry into an environmental and sustainability awareness programme, include:

  • Farmer initiated and built programmes
  • Awards programme to build awareness and acceptance
  • Proactive cultivation of a positive perception of the industry
  • Gradual normalisation of environmental matters amongst participants
  • Programme developed to include potential adversaries / key environmental agencies
  • Maintaining collaborative relationships with environment protagonists
  • Sustained role modelling
  • Industry commitment through formal QA programmes and industry funding
  • Market drivers for quality

The Deer Industry – Moving Forward with EMS

While this industry has a long history of audited systems for product assurance through processing (DeerQA) it does not have formal measures in place to monitor uptake of environmental best practice on-farm or evaluate the thoroughness of individual members’ application of SMP’s. Despite this the Industry is still enjoying good relations with environmental organisations and environmental consideration is still in vogue with deer farmers and kept alive with the environmental awards programme.

It has been 5 years since the industry launched its Landcare Manual and SMP template and nearly 10 years since it embarked on its successful environmental strategy. It is time for the industry to review the strategy that has served it so well and reconsider the integrity of its programme against EMS features in the areas of auditing and validation. The recent imposition of regulatory requirements for nutrient-loss benchmarking on Central North Island lakes catchments farms exemplifies an issue that industries need to accommodate in their own systems. While it can be said the ‘perception is everything’, sooner or latter facts and figures will be needed to substantiate uptake and quantify real achievements in best management practice and environmental performance to underpin the uptake of environmental management excellence that the industry is proud of.

2 - Meat & Wool New Zealand (M&WNZ)

In December 2008, Meat & Wool New Zealand (a leading NZ sheep & beef sector organisation), launched and promoted their graduated three level environmental programme called Land and Environment Plan or LEP Tool Kit. Meat & Wool New Zealand (M&WNZ) are an "industry good" organisation fully funded bysheep, beef and goat farmer levies at point of slaughter. Early in 2006they established a project team to develop a Land & Environment Plan (LEP) Tool Kit. The main objective for this project teamwas to produce a tool kit to assist farmers develop practical, credible environmental plans for their farms. The team was managed by M&WNZ and comprised seven farmers from different regions and types of pastoral farming enterprises, plus representatives from four Regional Councils.

Foundation Principles

This project team considered a variety of existing farm plan types and selected essential principles for inclusion in their programme. From these agreed foundation principles a set of instructions were compiled and a contract was let to a respected service provider AgResearch, who developed draft LEP modules for testing. The project team stipulated a module based and stair case approach in both hard copy and web form (see Grogan 2009). “It is proposed to have a number of progressive levels with the first levels or steps being especially simple and achievable so as to encourage further progression and accomplishment of higher levels. It was agreed that environmental sustainability is a journey and there is no finite end but rather a pathway of ‘continuous improvement” Key Outcomes Project Team 30/7/2007. Other foundational principles included integrating EMS elements (Carruthers 2007) such as the concept of continuous improvement.

Ownership and Design

From the outset, the project team agreed the perception of ownership by the grass roots farmer was critical to ensuring eventual uptake by the wider farming community. Meat and Wool NZ had experience of schemes foisted on farmers that had failed and had concluded that if an external specialist or consultant developed the system in isolation it was unlikely to be appropriately pitched and would not engender buy-in, uptake or development of further innovation by the farmers.It was particularly important the principal decisions on format, content, tone, promotion and launching of the product be determined by the experienced farmers in the project team, as they knew what would be acceptable to their farming colleagues. Regional Council land management professionals and the contracted science team from AgResearch complemented farmer knowledge with technical expertise on sustainable practices and guidance. Utilising the knowledge of these organisations ensured the new system was soundly based on proven soil and water science and a good fit with the policy of regulatory authorities.

Levels of Attainment

There was early agreement in the project team that first steps of ‘entry’ and ‘buy in’ should be relatively easy to attain, achievable by all and be a positive experience fostering farmers to continue. However the ease of entry should not compromise the integrity of the overall system. They also agreed the LEP Tool Kit needed to offer accountability and credibility to demonstrate environmental sustainability to international markets, the wider community and to the local Regional Council Authorities who administer NZ’s environmental law.

While there is a natural inclination amongst farmers to have “a fixed and achievable goal”, it was recognised that once such a goal is achieved there is a risk of the system being shelved and considered “totally achieved” - a “been there, done that” attitude. The goal was to encourage adoption and buy in to “a continuous journey of improvement” through regular review of all LEP plans. To cover both camps of thought and human nature around achievement goals three fundamental levels of achievement were derived with each level designed to positively excite interest in progression to the next. At the higher levels the LEP has the additional capability of being able to be assessed by an auditor using an approved check list provided by the industry. The third level is designed to be open-ended and to equip farmers with a sound platform to proceed with the option of ISO 14001 certification. A database of LEP tool kit recipients is now maintained so progressive updates can be managed, feedback sought, audits registered and adoption levels tracked.

Launch and Promotion

The LEP tool kit waslaunchedin early December 2008 using rural news media with endorsement articles byleading farmers from the project team.The M&WNZ’s CEO and chairman promoted it at industry events, through general media channels, and in the industry’s annual report distributed to all sheep & beef farmers in NZ. It was promoted to Agricultural Consultants and key Regional Councils at meetings and numerous events, including the annual Regional Council Land Manager conference. NZ meat processors were sent full copies via the Meat Industry Association.

Role of Monitor Farms

M&WNZ’s 35 monitor farms showcase best and current and new practices via contractual requirementswith the independent facilitators. They use a farm management plan designed in collaboration with a community group of farmers, a team of specialists, and consultants. All M&WNZ monitor farms hold public on-farm field-days where fellow farmers are encouraged to debate what they see and these played an important role in both the development and on-going promotion of the LEP toolkit.

Uptake and Adoption

As of 1st June 2009, over 650 full LEP tool kits have been directly requested by individuals. Requestsfrom farmers account for approximately 75%, with 25 % from other interested parties. Two of NZ’s larger meat processors (and some smaller ones), have shown keen interest in this product. One meat processor, who supplies a UK supermarket, now requirestheir farmer suppliers to haveachieved a minimum requirement of the level 2 LEP by a specified date if they wish to continue supplying animals for this destination. M&WNZ believe this specialist market driven push for LEP endorsed suppliers is a key motivator for farmers to adopt and progressively develop formal Land & Environment Plans for their farms.


M&WNZ’s policies around Land & Environment Plans:

  • The LEPs are totally voluntary to sheep & beef farmers.
  • There is active encouragement to every sheep & beef farmer to developa formal Level 1 self assessed LEP – the first step.
  • Progression through levels and continuous improvement is encouraged.
  • Higher levels have the option of third party certification.
  • LEPs are showcased through the industry’s monitor farms program.

Meat & Wool New Zealand have established a credible framework which has the potential to be inclusive of all its farmer membership, and which has many parallels to EMS process. There is a low difficulty threshold to getting on board initially and an unlimited ceiling for those who wish to excel. Having a nominated third party auditor in place is an indication that the industry is serious about demonstrating the credibility of its environmental performance. There is a sound demonstration base on their existing network of monitor farms. Launched at the end of 2008, this framework is still in its infancy and it will be interesting to observe how many meat and wool farmers join up and how many choose to migrate through the various levels.

3 - Lakes in Decline

One of New Zealand’s most topical environmental issues is the declining water quality in most of the central North Island lakes, in particular the collection of lakes around Rotorua. Lake Rotorua water quality has been declining since the 1960’s following an urban and rural development boom in the 1950’s. Rural catchment scheme riparian protection works were started in the 1970’s and 80’s and are ongoing, however city sewage continued to enter the lake until 1990. As a result of a long history of nutrient inputs, the lake now has nutrient loads embedded in the lake floor sediments that recycle regularly into the water column. Water quality decline in the lakes has been clearly linked to nitrogen and phosphorus loads from sewage, farm system losses and geothermal sources. Continual decline in water quality is now mostly attributed to increasing farm losses.resulting from ongoing productivity increases.

Regulation – Rule 11

Controversial regulatory measures have been introduced by the local Regional Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, under their responsibilities to the Resource Management Act. In 2005 the Council established water quality targets for all 12 lakes in the Rotorua area and implemented a series of rules in the Regional Water and Land Plan commonly termed ‘Rule 11’ on 5 of the 12 lakes. This is the first time in New Zealand that a rule has been imposed to address diffuse nutrient discharges (another nutrient rule is now operative in Lake Taupo, administered by Environment Waikato). Rule 11 is an interim or stopgap measure and is limited to only preventing further increases in nutrient losses from land use intensification and does not actually reduce the annual tonnages of nutrient inflows into the lake. Reductions are planned to be achieved by Lakes Action Plans.

Lakes Action Plans

Action Plans identify the nutrient reduction measures specific to each lake. The action plan for Lake Rotorua aims to reduce annual nutrient inflows by 30 tonnes of P and 250 tonnes of N per year. Engineering and improved sewage reticulation and treatment will remove 24 tonnes of P per year and 80 tonnes of N per year with the balance to be borne by rural land users who collectively will have to reduce P loss by 6 tonnes and N-loss by 170 Tonnes per year by 2017. These reduction requirements are significant and are planned to be achieved by two concurrent strategies. Firstly, efforts will be made to encourage some land uses to convert to lower nutrient loss activities such as conversion from pasture to forestry or semi-urban lifestyle i.e. methods of Land Use Change. Secondly, changes will be made in how land is managed, such as optimising farm systems to minimise nutrient losses i.e. methods of Land Management Change. This is the area where industry owned environment programmes have potential to complement existing regulation, and possibly avert the introduction of further regulation. If nutrient-loss savings can not be achieved by these methods and Lake Rotorua and others continue to decline it will be inevitable that regulation will be imposed to require nutrient reduction (possibly with arbitrary targets).

Potential role of sector EMS in Lakes Water Quality Solutions

The table below illustrates the compatibility of existing industry approaches with the Water and Land Plan’s provisions for voluntary stewardship, Method 47.

Council’s Stewardship Provisions


Deer NZ

Method 47 In partnership with landowners, implement where appropriate, voluntary Stewardship Management Agreements

as a base

as a base

(a) Promote a co-operative approach with positive, ongoing relationships with people as stewards of their land.

(b) Have particular regard to the ethic of stewardship.

(c) Recognise both the use and development of resources and protection of significant sites and of natural resources.

(d) Enable people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural well-being.

(e) Address the specific resource management issues of a property.

(f) Promote and encourage the adoption of BMPs that are suitable for the property to achieve sustainable management of resources.

(g) Include a process for monitoring the implementation and also reviewing the appropriateness of agreed Stewardship Management Agreements.

Yes it has provision for audit

No it is self assessed

Stewardship and EMS Compatibility

The Regional Water and Land Plan (2008) does not use the international terminology of Environment Management Systems (EMS). However it does have provisions for recognizing ‘Stewardship’ and although not defined, it is understood that stewardship ethic is about adopting good environmental management practices and being pro-active about avoiding, remedying or mitigating adverse effects of land use activities.

The plan provides for the establishment of partnerships with land users and the formation of Stewardship Management Agreements within the framework of the Regional Plan. Implementation is described in Method 47 of the plan with a number of stipulations which includes “a process for monitoring the implementation and also reviewing the appropriateness of agreed Stewardship Management Agreements” Method 47 (g). This basic methodology is consistent with EMS principles. The Plan allows for Stewardship Management Agreements to be used to comply with regulatory rules, rather than strictly complying with a standard set of rule conditions that may not result in the best overall outcome on a property. Method 238 of the Plan provides that approved Quality Assurance Programmes (aka EMS) can be used as a means of compliance with rules on stock access to and crossings of streams and rivers. The same principle could be applied to nutrient management in the Rotorua Lakes. Approved Quality Assurance Programmes are to be listed in Schedule 8 of the Plan, but to date none have been included. This relies on industry to request their EMS is approved by the Regional Council.

Environmental management provisions in New Zealand vary a great deal in their intent, content, credibility and environmental performance (Parminter et al. 2004). At farm level EMS are generally not well understood or readily applied in New Zealand agricultural sectors however the Deer Industry and Meat & Wool New Zealand have made significant progress in developing environmental programmes.

Dairy farming is a significant land user in the Rotorua Lakes catchments with an estimated contribution of nitrogen loss to Lake Rotorua of between 200 and 250 tonnes per annum. DairyNZ has an existing self assessment tool (Market Focused 2005) and is considering EMS (Bramley et al. 2009). This is not yet developed for farmers in the Rotorua Lakes catchment to take up.

To be formally recognised as a means of compliance with regulation for nutrient management, industry EMS need to be formally approved by the Regional Council.

Methods 47 and 238 set the minimum requirements for EMS or Stewardship Management Agreements that the Regional Council would accept. The Regional Water and Land Plan would then need to be changed through a public submission process to specify the EMS and the rules where the EMS is applicable (for example ‘Rule 11’). On-going auditing or monitoring would be necessary to assure the Regional Council and wider community that landowners were complying with their EMS. Alternatively, ‘Rule 11’ may remain as a backstop to prevent nutrient loss increasing from a property, and EMS used as part of Action Plan processes to contribute to the nutrient reduction targets for the specific lake. However, it is recognised that some extent of land use change is likely to be necessary in some lake catchments to achieve the targets.


The Bay of Plenty Regional Water and Land Plan 2008 has made provision for Stewardship Management Agreements with inclusive monitoring capability. While not specifically defined in the plan, it is anticipated that industry owned EMS are potentially a good fit with the objectives of this stewardship provision.

Both the Meat & Wool NZ and Deer sectors now have the opportunity to advance their respective EMS-like systems as the fundamental basis for forging credible Stewardship Management Agreements with the Regional Council to help address water quality issues in the Rotorua Lakes area. The Dairy industry has a similar unrealised capability. Meat & Wool New Zealand’s new LEP has the advantage of an inclusive third party auditing facility but the programme is still in its infancy and relatively unknown amongst its farmer membership. Comparatively, the deer industry’s Landcare Manual promoting best management practice and SMPs, is relatively well known by its members and respected by some environmental agencies but does not currently have a third party monitoring or auditing facility so individual or collective performance can not be assessed.

Further promotion and farmer uptake together with some development is required before either of these industry EMS can realistically take a formal role in the Rotorua Lakes restoration plans. Regulatory restrictions are already affecting farm operations in the Rotorua Lakes area. Adoption of voluntary EMS with credible monitoring and auditing may help the lakes farmers demonstrate their best practice, intentions and continuous improvement in environmental performance. This may provide a sound basis for formal Stewardship Management Agreements with the Council and potentially reduce the risk of further regulatory impositions limiting farming capability in the lakes catchment areas.


Bramley, M., Scarsbrook, M., Smeaton, D., Care, D., O’Connell, A. (2009). Environmental Plans in a Farm Systems Context. Proceedings of the Workshop ‘Nutrient Management in a Rapidly Changing World. Pg 315. Massey University, Palmerston North, NZ.

Carruthers, G. (2007). Using the EMS process as an integrative farm management tool. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, 2007, 47, 312-324.

Deer QA (1991). Quality Assurance. [see also Wharfe and Manhire 2004]

Deer Farmers’ Landcare Manual (2004). Printed copies available from Deer Industry NZ Phone +64 4 471 6119 or Email:

Environmental Awards (2008). Deer Industry Awards Information & Entry Form.

Grogan, C. (2009). Meat & Wool NZ. Land & Environment Planning (LEP) Tool Kit.

Market Focused (2005). An Environmental Management System for New Zealand Dairy Farmers.

Meat & Wool NZ. Environmental Stewardship

National Business Review 28th July 2009

NZFEA Trust (1993). New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust.

NZFEA Trust. Learning from Leaders (LfL) programme and Tips from Top Farmers

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Paterson, J.H. (2004). Best Practice Land Management Systems for Deer Farming. Project report with SFF. [See also Deer Farmer’s Landcare Manual 2004]

Perkins, A., Ritchie, H. (2006). The case for participatory problem-solving: lessons from the ‘Learning from Leaders’ project. Presentation to NZIPIM Conference, 7 June 2006.

SAMSN The "Information Hub" on sustainable management systems (SMS) in the agriculture and horticulture sectors in New Zealand.

Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF). Projects funded by SFF since 2000

Water and Land Plan (2008). Environment Bay of Plenty Regional Council. Stewardship Page 28 S3.1 Issue 11. Stewardship Management Agreements Pg 43 Method 47.

Wharfe, L., Manhire, J. (2004). The SAMsn Initiative – Advancing Sustainable Management Systems in Agriculture and Horticulture - A Review of Selected New Zealand Environmental Management and Quality Assurance Programmes. Part Four, Deer, Sections 2.0 to 2.5

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