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Manawatū-Whanganui region

Surface Water Zone: Manawatū

The Manawatū River catchment covers an area of 5,898 square km. The river itself is 235 km long with a total stream length in the catchment of 9,648 km. The catchment has a number of large tributaries including the Oroua (131 km), Mangatainoka (71 km), Mangahao (86 km), Pohangina (71 km) and Tiraumea (69 km) rivers.

The headwaters of the Manawatū River are situated in the Ruahine Ranges, northwest of Norsewood. The river is unique in that it begins on the eastern side of a main divide and winds its way to the Tasman Sea on the western side of the range at Foxton Beach. This means the river predates the geological formation of the ranges.

The river's name comes from the Māori words manawa (heart, spirit) and tū (stand still, or depressed) and Manawatū translates to heart standing still with sadness. It was named by Haunui who was in pursuit of his wife when he arrived at the river clutching his chest. The river was the key transport route for Rangitaane o Manawatū and continues to have great cultural significance for them and other iwi including Ngati Raukawa and Ngati Kauwhata.

The major land use in the Manawatū catchment is agricultural (70%) with more than 50% used for sheep and beef farming while dairy farming accounts for 17%. Native bush, mostly within the conservation areas of the Ruahine and Tararua Ranges, accounts for a further 17%. Palmerston North is the largest urban area within the catchment with many smaller communities serving agricultural areas.

Generally in the catchment there is still water available. However, this is largely limited to the mid-lower parts of the catchment. There are some sub-zones in the upper catchment that are fully or over allocated. The largest uses of water in the Manawatū are town water supplies and takes for irrigation. The water allocation framework manages impacts of the allocation on water body values including consumptive uses by setting minimum flows and allocation limits for each sub-zone.

Water Use
Surface Water in this Zone

Regional councils collect information about how much water is available and manage resource consents for those wishing to take water from rivers and streams. Use the buttons below to view information on: how much water is available, where it comes from and how its used.


Rainfall {{waterAvailable.rainfall}} Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}} Surface Water available: {{waterSource.availableToAllocate}} Irrigation
Town supply
  • How much surface water is there in this zone?

    Rainfall and flow in this surface water zone

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    Rainfall and runoff

    Relative breakdown Source Volume
    Rainfall total:
    {{waterAvailable.rainfall }}
    rainfall Rainfall Total {{waterAvailable.rainfall}}
    Runoff total:
    {{waterAvailable.runoff }}
    runoff Runoff to sea {{waterAvailable.runoff}}

    The table above shows the average amount of rainfall the water management zone receives each year and how much of that flows out to sea. These are approximate figures only.

  • Water consents: How much water is consented and used?

    Surface water available to consent

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    Consented water in this surface water zone

    Use the tables below to look at how much water is available compared with how much is actually consented within this water management zone. Click the plus to expand subzones where available

    Comparing consents and use
    Amount available to consent In this surface water management zone:
    {{}} {{}}
    available to consent
    Amount consented
    measured and non measured
    Amount used (measured)
    Amount Units Consented or used as a percentage of available
    Total available to consent {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total consented {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total consented and measured {{}} {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total measured amount used {{}} {{}} {{}}
    Total measured volume used {{}} {{}}

    The table above shows the amount of water that is available for use compared to the amount that has been consented. The ‘Total Consented’ and ‘Total Consented and Measured’ fields are based on percentages of the ‘Total available to Consent’ field. If this field is not populated no data will be displayed. Some consents require actual use to be monitored and this is presented as 'Total measured volume Used' where available.

  • Water consents: How is consented water used?

    Consents by use in this surface water zone

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    Consented water

    Overall annual volume for {{waterAvailable.year}}
    Relative breakdown
    Activity Percentage of total consented Total volume Number of consents
    {{item.displayText}} {{item.displayText}} - - No data available {{item.breakdownPercentage}}% {{item.totalVolume}} m3 {{item.numberOfConsents}}
    Total {{}}% {{}} m3 {{}}

    The above table shows the proportion of water consented for irrigation, industrial, stock, town supply and other. It excludes hydro electricity. In this region/management zone {{hydroUsage.totalVolume}} m3/year is consented for hydro-electricity and makes up {{hydroUsage.percentageConsented}}% of the total water volume consented for this region/management zone


Monitored sites in this Zone

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