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Waikato region

Air Quality

Air quality in the Waikato region is generally good but during winter, concentrations of fine particulate matter are high in some urban areas at times. This is mainly due to solid fuel burners and open fires.

Waikato Regional Council monitors air quality in urban areas across the Waikato region. Fine particulate (PM10) is the contaminant typically associated with domestic woodburner smoke and the region’s main air contaminant of concern. The Regional Policy Statement focus for air is avoidance of unacceptable risks to human health and ecosystems, with achieving compliance with National Environmental Standards a high priority. Emphasis is placed on controlling discharges from solid fuel burners and open fires, the main source of air pollution in our region, but also recognises the importance of controlling discharges from other sources such as transport and industry and also outdoor burning.  Air quality is worst in urban areas where cold, calm conditions occur over winter and there is a large number of woodburners. The region’s best areas are typically where there is good air movement over winter, such as coastal towns or towns where there is a low density of woodburners. The Waikato region has 20 gazetted urban airsheds: Cambridge, Hamilton, Huntly, Matamata, Morrinsville, Ngaruawahia, Otorohanga, Paeroa, Putaruru, Taupo, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu-Kihikihi, Te Kuiti, Thames, Tokoroa, Tuakau, Turangi, Waihi, Whangamata and Whitianga. The 8 airsheds identified in bold are currently monitored by Waikato Regional Council for PM10. Four of these also have meteorological stations installed. In addition the town of Huntly is monitored at three sites within the Huntly airshed by Genesis Energy Ltd., as a requirement of their air discharge consent for operation of the Huntly Power Station. Monitoring data for the Huntly airshed is not included on this website because it is not collected by Waikato Regional Council’s monitoring programme. Since the 20 urban airsheds were gazetted, monitoring has shown that four of these airsheds (Putaruru, Taupo, Te Kuiti and Tokoroa) are polluted as defined by the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality.   Six of the gazetted airsheds (Otorohanga, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Tuakau, Waihi, Whangamata and Whitianga) have yet to be monitored. A rolling programme to complete surveying of all 20 urban airsheds by 2025 is in place. It involves disestablishing monitoring sites where three or more years of monitoring has indicated no exceedances of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality, and redeploying monitoring equipment to airsheds which have not yet been monitored. Long term monitoring of benzene and associated monoaromatic compounds (BTEX) is also undertaken at six passive traffic monitoring sites around Hamilton. Waikato Regional Council has also undertaken short term survey monitoring of PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO and O3 in Hamilton and of O3 in Coromandel township. Long term monitoring of PM2.5 in Tokoroa was also initiated during the winter of 2015.

Regional Summary
PM10 at towns in this region

The most significant air pollutant in New Zealand are small airborne particles in our air (known as particulate matter). Particulate pollutants are of most concern in New Zealand because of their high concentrations in some of our towns. Exposure to high levels of airborne particle pollutants has the potential to cause respiratory and cardiovascular issues. View a factsheet on why air quality is important here.

PM10 is the main concern in Waikato towns. Exposure to PM10 can have short and long term health effects. We report on annual and daily PM10 concentrations each year. Trends are reported for towns where we have 10 or more years of PM10 concentrations. For towns with more than one monitoring site, only one site is reported here, to show variation between towns.

  • Annual average
  • Highest daily average



% of guideline

What is this graph showing me?

The graph shows the annual average or highest daily average PM10 concentrations for monitored town(s) in this region for the year selected. The PM10 concentrations are shown against the guidelines for air quality, and where concentrations exceed 100% of the guideline this can be a cause for concern, especially if this occurs on a frequent basis. (For a town that has more than one monitoring site, only one representative site is shown here).

Data table
Towns 10-year Trend annual average (µg/m³) Highest daily average (µg/m³) 2nd highest daily average (µg/m³)

What is this table showing me?

The table shows the annual average, and the dates of the highest and second highest daily average PM10 concentrations for monitored town(s) in the year selected. The 10-year trend indicates, in terms of PM10, whether the air quality has been improving, showing no measurable change, or declining over the last 10 years.

Towns 13