He Waka Eke Noa

With half New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture, the primary sector has a key role to play in helping meet our international and domestic commitments. 

What is He Waka Eke Noa?

He Waka Eke Noa - the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership - was formed in 2019 to design a practical, credible and effective system for reducing emissions at the farm level, as an alternative to the agriculture entering the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The He Waka Eke Noa Partnership comprises: Apiculture NZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, DCANZ, Deer Industry NZ, the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA), Federated Farmers, FAR, Horticulture NZ, Irrigation NZ, Meat Industry Association, Ministry for Primary Industries and Ministry for the Environment. 

It is supported by other organisations, including AgResearch, the Department of Conservation, the Fertiliser Association, Manaaki Whenua, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and Scion.

Pricing on-farm emissions

In June 2022, following six months of consultation on a range of pricing options, the He Waka Eke Noa partnership recommended to Government that a farm-level, split-gas levy be used to price emissions from 2025 instead of the ETS. The He Waka Eke Noa proposal included: 

  • Emissions calculated and paid for at the farm level.
  • Split-gas approach applies different levy rates to short- and long-lived gas emissions. 
  • Pricing starts from 1 July 2025 with a simplified levy system, moving to a full farm-level levy in 2027.
  • Farmers calculate their short- and long-lived gas emissions through a centralised calculator (or through existing tools/software that are linked to the calculator).
  • Incentive payments for reduced emissions from on-farm efficiencies and mitigations as technologies and practices become available.
  • Incentives are provided for uptake of actions (practices and technologies) to reduce emissions
  • On-farm sequestration is recognised, which could offset the cost of the emissions levy.
  • Levy revenue is invested in research, development and extension, including a dedicated fund for Māori landowners
  • A System Oversight Board with expertise and representation from the primary sector board would work closely an independent Māori Board to advise Ministers on levy rates and set the strategy for use of levy revenue.

Participants in the scheme would be GST registered and annually average over any of the following:

  • 550 stock units (including sheep, cattle, deer, goats)
  • 50 dairy cattle
  • 700 swine (farrow to finish)
  • 50,000 poultry
  • Or apply over 40 tonnes nitrogen through synthetic nitrogen fertiliser

Climate Change Commission advice

In addition to the He Waka Eke Noa partnership proposal, the Government sought advice from the Climate Change Commission. The Commission looked at whether farmers would be 'ready' to face a price on agricultural emissions from 2025 and agreed that they would. It also agreed that the best way forward was via a farm-level levy rather than in the ETS. However, there were a few key differences with the He Waka Eke Noa proposal:

  • Nitrous oxide emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertiliser should be included in the ETS as soon as possible, and at the processor level not the farm level. 
  • Sequestration should not be included in the farm-level levy and instead should be handled in a separate system that could recognise and reward for other benefits such as biodiversity and freshwater. 

Government decisions

The Government must make its decision on the pricing system for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by December 2022. It has released its proposed way forward for pricing, based on the He Waka Eke Noa partnership proposal and the Climate Change Commission advice. Consultation is taking place from 11 October to 18 November 2022. 

The Government has agreed with much of the proposed farm-level, split-gas levy put forward by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership. It is consulting on the following aspects:

  • Design features for the farm-level system
  • Options for how nitrous oxide emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertiliser should be priced - either in the farm-level system (as proposed by He Waka Eke Noa) or in the ETS (as advised by the Climate Change Commission)
  • Whether a processor-level levy is needed as an interim if the farm-level pricing system won't be ready by 2025
  • How levy prices should be set
  • How on-farm sequestration should be treated

Farmer voices are critical in shaping a practical system for reducing farm-level emissions. Have your say here

What do farmers need to do now?

As well as developing an alternative pricing system, the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership is working towards milestones designed to help farmers and growers get ready to participate in emissions pricing from 2025.

These milestones have been included in the climate change legislation and include:

  • By December 2022, all farms must know their annual total on-farm greenhouse gas emissions
  • By December 2024, all farms must have a written plan in place to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions

For the purposes of the above milestones, the Partnership has defined a farm as being anything over 80 hectares, or a dairy farm with a milk supply number, or a cattle feedlot as defined in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. Note that this is a different definition to that used in the farm-level levy - the Partnership is reviewing this at present. 

If you haven't already, now is a good time to find out what your annual total on-farm greenhouse gas numbers are and to identify the sources of methane and/or nitrous oxide on your farm so that you can start identifying opportunities for managing them. You can find out how to do this on our Know Your Numbers page. To hear from other Kiwi farmers who are starting to think about this stuff, check out our case studies.  

More information

For more on He Waka Eke Noa and helpful background information on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, see:

Published: June 13, 2022