Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land management practices has passed a milestone, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says.
There are now more than 170 catchment groups nationwide receiving support, O'Connor said.
"When it comes to freshwater, we have a job to do as an industry and that's to restore our rivers within a generation."
Yesterday, O'Connor announced $2.1 million to support 31 farmer-led catchment groups in the Manawatū, Rangitīkei, and Wairarapa.
The funding helped farmers and growers transition to more sustainable land use, he said.
"Nationally, these groups that we are backing provide on-the-ground support to more than 5000 farmers, helping them access expertise and tools to improve their environmental and economic sustainability, not to mention wellbeing."
Almost $29 million had been invested in catchment groups in the past 18 months, through the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) extension services and Jobs for Nature programmes, O'Connor said.
Extension services supported a key sustainability component of the Government's Fit for a Better World roadmap, a component that aimed to restore New Zealand's freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation.
O'Connor announced the funding during a meeting with catchment group leaders and farmers near Mangaweka in the Rangitīkei yesterday.
"We're investing a further $910,000 over two years in the Rangitīkei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC), where 17 catchment groups will be supported, with the potential for several more.
The Government was already investing $1.5 million from the Jobs for Nature programme for environmental restoration in the catchment, as well as tackling Old Man's Beard, which smothered native plants, O'Connor said.
"In the Wairarapa, the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance (WaiP2K) has been allocated $1.1 million over two years to support five existing farmer-led catchment groups and enable up to 10 more to be established," O'Connor said.
The Manawatū Rivers Catchment Collective, which was set up last year to bring sub-catchment groups within the wider Manawatū River catchment together, has been allocated $120,000 for a nine-month project to support nine existing groups.
Catchment groups supported farmers to develop detailed Farm Environment Plans and provided an opportunity to learn good practice from one another, O'Connor said.
"Catchment groups working together and farmers integrating practical and meaningful insights from them into their farm plans is how we're going to shift the dial."