AsureQuality Environmental and Sustainability Assurance team are proud to be part of the programme that will give effect to Te Mana o Te Wai, improving the quality of freshwater and our environment.
In June 2023, the Resource Management (Freshwater Farm Plan) regulations were released, outlining the certification and audit requirements for freshwater farm plans. These regulations specify that plans must be certified within 18 months of applying in each region and re-certified every 5 years. Audits will be required within 12 months of initial certification.
Starting from August 1st, freshwater farm plan regulations will start to be rolled out in Southland and Waikato. Farmers within those parts of the region where the regulations have come into effect, will be developing plans to submit for certification within 18 months.
To enable the certification and auditing steps, the councils need a number of skilled certifiers and auditors (initially in Southland and Waikato). AsureQuality have been appointed to develop the process for people to become certifiers and auditors of freshwater farm plans. Certifiers will assess whether a farm plan meets certification requirements, while auditors will ensure farms comply with their certified freshwater farm plans.
A new website,(external link) farmplancertifiers.nz, is available which includes everything potential certifiers and auditors need to know about the programme, how to become a certifier and/or auditor, the application form as well as FAQs. Certifier applications are now open for Waikato and Southland, and we are ready to receive applications. Applications for additional regions will follow as the regulations come into effect within those regions.
"During the design of the certifier and auditor appointment programme, we have held discussion groups and workshops to capture feedback and input to ensure the best experience possible for people," describes AsureQuality User Experience Lead, Trish Rankin. "We will continue to collate feedback over the initial rollout phase (Aug-Dec 2023) to improve the application process and ensure a nationally consistent programme."
Simon Love, Environmental Sustainability Assurance Lead at AsureQuality is excited about the launch of the programme and the opportunity that it presents for rural professionals and people with backgrounds in farm-systems and freshwater ecosystems. He says, "New Zealand has highly competent and passionate rural professionals working with our farmers, and we look forward to supporting as many people as we can to become appointed as freshwater farm plan certifiers and auditors. Let's get behind the programme and help New Zealand's farm operators keep up the great mahi underway on their farms for the care and protection of our environment."