How the council works

Regional Councils are responsible for managing their region’s natural resources – the air, soil, water and how land use affects the environment. 

Our purpose

Facilitating sustainable development for the Canterbury region |Te huawaere i te kauneke tauwhiro i Waitaha.

We work to ensure environmental sustainability, enable community aspirations to be met, recognise and provide for cultural values, and support regional development.

Our outcomes
Environment Canterbury facilitates sustainable development for the Canterbury region so:
  • we can breathe clear air, play and swim in the rivers, gather mahinga kai, benefit from the productive use of our land, and enjoy Canterbury’s unique biodiversity taonga and landscapes
  • we can live, travel, and move goods with ease, within and to/from the region, facilitating work, leisure and tourism
  • we have access to the information we need to be resilient in the face of short-term hazards and well-prepared for longer-term change to our region’s natural environment
  • we can all help shape the future of Canterbury, leaving a legacy for generations to come.
Our values
Environment Canterbury adheres to a strong set of values that underpin the way we work towards our desired outcomes. They are: 
  • People first | Manaakitanga – people, customers and staff come first
  • Collaboration | Whanaungatanga – together works best
  • Stewardship | Kaitiakitanga – good decisions today for tomorrow
  • Integrity | Pononga – trust in us and our information
  • Can do | Māiatanga – be brave and make it happen. 
Our roles and responsibilites
Regional Councils are responsible for managing their region’s natural resources – the air, soil, water and how land use affects the environment.
District or City Councils focus on providing services for their ratepayers such as roads, reticulation of water, sewerage, libraries, parks, recreation and town or city planning.
Environment Canterbury has around 630 full-time equivalent staff across Canterbury.
As a regional council, our specific responsibilities include:
  • regional planning, consenting and compliance to manage land use and water quality, soil, air, and the coastal environment
  • hazard management and flood protection
  • biodiversity and pest management
  • public transport services
  • harbour navigation and safety, and marine pollution response
  • regional parks
  • civil defence
  • environmental monitoring and reporting.
Local authority Councillors are public officials and operate under the rule of law. The Council’s work is guided by a framework of legislation and national and local policies, plans and strategies.
The Local Electoral Act 2001 governs the conduct of local elections and polls, and the Local Government Act 2002 determines our role and how we must act.
The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) charges regional councils with the establishment, implementation and review of objectives, policies and methods to achieve sustainable management of the natural and physical resources of the region. It underpins much of our work.
Under the RMA the government has established National Policy Statements and National Environmental Standards which we must adhere to, and Environment Canterbury has developed a Regional Policy Statement and regional plans for land and water, air and the coastal environment.
Key regional strategies include the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS), the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy and the Canterbury Biodiversity Strategy.
Our priorities and how we work
Environment Canterbury’s current strategic priorities are freshwater management and indigenous biodiversity.
These two strategic priorities focus our attention on the importance of improving the health of Canterbury’s waterways, particularly braided rivers and wetlands.
We can only be successful in achieving progress if we work closely with mana whenua, central and other local government agencies, businesses, industry sectors and community and volunteer groups to manage natural resources.
The Council takes a strong collaborative approach in its work. Two specific relationships of note are with Ngāi Tahu and the region’s territorial authorities.
Our portfolios of work
We structure our work into six portfolios. The pre-election report outlines how we set out the work underway in these portfolios, the progress being made in each of them and the projects planned over the next few years.  The portfolios are:
  • freshwater management
  • biodiversity and biosecurity
  • transport and urban development
  • hazards, risk and resilience
  • air quality
  • regional leadership

Pre-election report

The Pre-Election Report-2019 (PDF File, 1.26MB) is prepared by Chief Executive, Bill Bayfield.

The report provides candidates and voters a snapshot of Environment Canterbury’s work to progress the sustainable use of land, water and other resources and points to issues facing our region and how to plan to tackle them.