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4.2.4 Implementation Methods - Structures In, On, Under or Over the Beds of Lakes and Rivers

Advisory Notes:

  • The repair, upgrading, operation and maintenance of structures is provided for in the rules in Module 4 River and Lake Beds only so far as those activities are controlled by s13(1)(a) of the RMA 1991 and to the extent that they are governed by regional councils' functions.
  • The Department of Conservation must be notified of the intention to erect or place any structure likely to impede fish passage. This includes, for example, culverts, fords, dam or diversion structures (Part VI of the Freshwater Fisheries Regulations 1983).
  • The authority responsible for navigation safety may need to be notified prior to undertaking the erection or placement of a structure in, on, under or over the bed of any navigable river or lake. As at the date of notification of this Plan the authority responsible is the Maritime Safety Authority. However, legislative reform may pass this responsibility to regional councils.
  • All structures must comply with provisions of the Building Act 1991 and any other relevant legislation.
  • Some lake beds may be covered by designations detailed in the relevant district plan. The approval of the relevant authority may be needed before any structure is erected in such places. The district plan may also have controls relating to surface water activities, which may impact upon the location of structures.
  • Restrictions in s13 of the RMA do apply to wetlands where the wetland becomes part of the bed of the river when the river is at its fullest flow, or part of the bed of a lake when the lake reaches its highest level without exceeding its margins.
  • The rules in this section apply to structures in natural and modified watercourses, but do not apply to artificial watercourses*. Artificial watercourses are not included in the definition of a river under the RMA and are therefore not subject to the requirements of rules in this module of the Plan.
  • Cave passages that are either ephemeral or permanently flowing water bodies are considered to be a river bed.
  • All structures in, on, under or over the bed of Lake Taupo or its tributaries and the bed of the Waikato River to the confluence of the Waipapa Stream require, in addition to any RMA requirements, the approval of the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board as owners of the lake bed and part river bed. Any person wishing to erect a structure in Lake Taupo must consult with the Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board to check with their requirements. Furthermore, such consideration extends to the bed of Lake Rotoaira which is hapu owned and vested in the Lake Rotoaira Trust. Meeting the requirements of the Trust Board does not exclude an applicant from compliance with the rules of this Plan.
  • Waikato Tainui have a close interest in activities and structures in the Waikato River and its tributaries. It is recommended that any person erecting a structure in, on, under or over the bed of the Waikato River consult with the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust.
  • The beds of rivers and lakes in New Zealand are owned by the Crown or by private organisations or individuals. Any person intending to build any structure in, on, under or over the bed of a lake or river must seek the consent of the owner of the bed before doing so, including where the activity is authorised by a resource consent or rule in a regional plan.
  • Where a structure is to be located in, on, under or over the bed of a water body that is a Significant Geothermal Feature Rules to of Module 7 Geothermal shall apply. Significant Geothermal Features are defined in the Glossary, and in Development and Limited Development Geothermal Systems, identified on maps in Section 7.10 of this Plan.
  • Rules regarding the effects of dam and diversion structures in, on, under or over the beds of lakes and rivers (with the exception of culverts) appear in Chapter 3.6 Damming and Diverting. Environmental Education

Waikato Regional Council will use environmental education programmes to inform the community and resource users of:

  1. methods that protect the beds and banks of rivers and lakes from destabilisation
  2. rules regarding structures and activities in, on, under or over the beds of rivers and lakes. Integration of Lake Taupo Moorings Management

Waikato Regional Council will liaise with representatives of Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board, the Department of Internal Affairs and Taupo District Council to ensure that the integration of RMA functions and navigation safety functions for Lake Taupo are managed efficiently and effectively. Waikato Regional Council will work with Taupo District Council to ensure moorings management is co-ordinated and consistent with management of, and planning for, associated shore-based facilities, and vice-versa. Advocacy for Voluntary Good Practice

Waikato Regional Council will liaise with mooring holders within Lake Taupo, to achieve voluntary good practice with regard to issues such as sewage disposal from vessels on the Lake. Discretionary Activity Rule – Structures In, On, Under or Over the Beds of Rivers and Lakes


This Rule does not apply to:

Plantation forestry activities as from 1 May 2018 these activities are regulated under the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry Regulations 2017.


The use, erection, reconstruction, placement, extension, alteration or demolition or removal of any structure in, on, under or over the bed of any lake or river that is not specifically provided for by any rule, or does not comply with the conditions of a permitted or controlled activity rule in this Plan, is a discretionary activity (requiring resource consent).

Advisory Note:

  • Information requirements to enable the assessment of any application under this rule are set out in Section 8.1.31. In addition, assessment shall also take into account the matters identified in Policy 1 of Section 4.2.3.


Explanation and Principal Reasons for Adopting Methods to
Method provides for environmental education programmes which will be used to assist the community and resource users to understand the requirements of regional rules and to use methods that avoid erosion of the beds of rivers and lakes. Environmental education is an effective means of providing resource users with information on how they can improve and undertake activities on the beds of rivers and lakes.

Method recognises that it is important that RMA and navigation safety matters are aligned and any joint management issues are addressed as efficiently as possible. It also recognises that Waikato Regional Council and Taupo District Council operate under different jurisdictions but that decisions made by each may impact upon the functions and demands placed upon the other. For example, provision of new offshore facilities may give rise to additional pressure for onshore facilities, and vice-versa. This method also links to methods under section 2.3.4 of this Plan.

Method seeks to engage the support of mooring holders in Lake Taupo in establishing good practice with regard to issues affecting the quality of the lake environment.

The purpose of Rule is to provide for any structure that has not been specifically provided for, or cannot comply with the rules in this Plan.

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