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James Muir

As a Scientific Entrepreneur and Filmmaker, James has been the driving force behind RiverWatch. His most valuable learning has been from his relationships with suppliers, researchers, designers, government and end-users.


7 min read


What Does Water Quality Monitoring Mean for Communities?

Water encompasses every aspect of who we are. By protecting the health and wellbeing of our freshwater, we protect the health and wellbeing of our community and environments with the help of a water quality monitoring solution.

Contaminants released into waterways have been highlighted in news stories. So it’s not surprising that there’s been a lot of public concern – because water encompasses every aspect of who we are.

Water quality monitoring is often absent, or we turn a blind eye to the problem, unaware of the ongoing effects. New Zealanders deserve safe and reliable water services that provide good health and support the sustainability of the environment.

Through equipping communities with the right tools to understand our waters, New Zealand can protect their water and achieve clean, swimmable rivers and streams.

Why Water Quality Matters to Our Communities

Water matters to every part of our life and community. From the cultural importance of our waters to water as a resource in our business industry operations, water quality monitoring ensures water is up to the standard for usability.

Freshwater is Fundamental to Health and Well-being

Te Mana o te Wai, referring to the vital importance of water, is a fundamental concept used in New Zealand to manage freshwater. New Zealand rivers and lakes and how they’re cared for are fundamental to our country.

Water is at the heart of our culture and identity.

Te Mana o te Wai is a concept integrated with the health and wellbeing of our waters, from the mountains to the seas. To keep our water healthy, we need to look after the wider environment, including our land and trees.

The Te Mana o te Wai hierarchy of obligations:

  1. Protect the health and wellbeing of the waters.

  2. Provide for essential human needs, like healthy drinking water.

  3. Enable other uses of the water.

Whether it’s a place someone used to swim in as a kid or a family’s favourite camping spot, people have important connections to water. Likewise, particular rivers or lakes have importance through our history and experiences.

From a traditional Māori perspective, a body of water can be directly connected to a person’s sense of identity. People are connected to water and the natural world through whakapapa, which descends from Ranginui and Papatuanuku to people and the environment.

Freshwater is Fundamental to Health and Well being

By protecting the health and wellbeing of our freshwater, we protect the health and wellbeing of our community and environments.

Water is the Resource of Life

In our communities, water is the resource of life. High water quality ensures we can carry out necessary activities, but hazards can arise for the community without monitoring the water quality.

With water monitoring, we can prevent effects on our land, ecosystems and crop growth and ensure our communities have access to safe drinking water and food. Bodies of water are essential for our recreational activities and tourism environment, ensuring what we have is kept healthy and beautiful. Water is related to our sense of identity and a fundamental part of life for our communities.

Water Supports New Zealand’s Ecosystems

New Zealand is home to various ecosystems with plants and animals found nowhere else around the globe. Freshwater is the heart of many ecosystems, from lakes to rivers to wetlands. Unhealthy water environments put our fish, birds and plants at risk.

Clean water safe from bacteria is essential – we can’t live without drinking water. Water is also necessary for cleaning ourselves, our clothes and our homes. But without regular water quality monitoring, we risk it all.

Poor Water Quality Means Risking Food Gathering

Food is gathered from our lakes, rivers and wetlands, including salmon and trout fishing to catching eels. Māori practice mahinga kai (food gathering) and have done for hundreds of years, with their traditional food sources including tuna (eels) and koura (crayfish).

Monitoring the water quality of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers ensures the plants and animals can grow safely for us to eat. Without water quality monitoring, we risk our physical health.

Our Primary Industries Rely on Water Quality Monitored for Operations

Water is essential for our primary industries, farming and forestry, and other industries, including construction, industrial and commercial.

Water used for farming often comes directly from rainfall. But in some places where that may not be possible, water is taken from our groundwater, rivers and lakes to supply water to our land and enable crop growth.

Water Is Essential For Our Recreational Activities

Being able to swim locally is important, and so is using rivers and lakes for activities like fishing or kayaking. Even if it’s not the water itself, it can be the parks next to them where people camp or walk their dogs.

Beyond the importance to our population alone, our reputation for our naturally beautiful landscape is what drives tourism. It’s important to preserve the things that make our waters beautiful and unique.

What Is a Water Quality Monitoring System

Preserving Water Quality for Our Communities

When water quality is poor, it affects aquatic life, ecosystems and communities. Water is the heart of our country and is directly connected to our sense of identity.

Water quality monitoring is an adaptive solution for finding out what is happening in our waters in real-time rather than after it has happened. The Waka water quality monitor comes with five sensors and IoT connectivity. Paired with data interpretation software and signal mate, it’s suitable for any water environment to benefit the community.

The RiverWatch mission is to empower New Zealand to achieve clean and swimmable rivers and streams through providing real-time water quality information. We’re committed to restoring and enhancing freshwater.

Get in touch with us to learn more about RiverWatch and our innovative water quality and river monitoring solution.

The Latest About Water Quality

Understand New Zealand water quality and government regulations and standards, including drinking and swimming water quality compliance. We're educating New Zealanders to understand water quality through real-time monitoring and keeping the nation informed on the health of our waterways.