He Waka Eke Noa

With nearly 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?

New Zealand's agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are not currently priced in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). However, with specific long-term reduction targets now legislated for methane and nitrous oxide, a system is needed for incentivising change and supporting action at the farm level. 

He Waka Eke Noa was announced in October 2019 as a five-year partnership between the Government, primary sector organisations and Māori to develop that system. The alternative is for agriculture to come into the ETS through a charge at the processor level. 

He Waka Eke Noa translates to "we're all in this together". The Partnership is based on a proposal originally put forward by 10 sector organisations and the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA).

What is He Waka Eke Noa doing?

The Partnership is developing a practical framework to support farmers to measure, manage and reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. This includes the development of a pricing system for those emissions as an alternative to the ETS. If accepted by Government, this will apply from 2025. It also includes development of: 

  • Farm planning guidance
  • A system for reporting on-farm emissions
  • A simple, cost-effective programme that recognises on-farm sequestration (forestry) that isn't currently included in the ETS
  • A supporting programme of research and extension activities. 

Farmer reference groups are a critical part of the He Waka Eke Noa process, helping ensure that the alternative system that is designed will be practical and straightforward to implement at the farm level. 

Te Aukaha, led by FOMA, provides input into the Partnership to ensure that a te ao Māori perspective is integrated throughout the programme and that the perspectives of Māori farmers, growers and landowners are reflected.

What do farmers need to do now?

As well as developing the pricing system, the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership is working towards achievement of a series of 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:

Milestone Deadline
25% of all farms must know their annual total on-farm greenhouse gas emissions  31 December 2021
25% of all farms must have a written plan in place to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions 1 January 2022
100% of farms must know their annual total on-farm greenhouse gas emissions  31 December 2022
A pilot of a farm-level emissions accounting and reporting system has been completed across a range of farm types 1 January 2024
100% of farms have a written plan in place to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions 31 December 2024
100% of farms are using the accounting and reporting system to report their 2024 emissions 1 January 2025

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. It is possible that the definition of a farm that will be used in the pricing mechanism will be different with smaller farms included. 

If you haven't already, now is a good time to find out what your annual total on-farm greenhouse gas numbers are. You will have to know this information by December 2022. 

Getting a good understanding of the sources of methane and nitrous oxide on your farm will then help you start to identify opportunities for managing them, which in turn means you can document your decisions in your farm plan. You will have to have this written plan in place by the end of 2024.

You can find out more about your greenhouse gas numbers and the farm planning process on our Know Your Numbers page. To hear stories from other Kiwi farmers who are starting to think about this stuff, check out our case studies.  

Also, as noted above, make sure to keep an eye on the He Waka Eke Noa website as the Partnership is planning nationwide engagement with farmers and growers in February 2022 to talk through the pricing options. These discussions will be led by Beef + Lamb NZ and DairyNZ.  

When will decisions be made?

Feedback from those discussions with farmers will form part of a report to Government in April 2022 with recommendations on the pricing system. 

At the same time, the Climate Change Commission will be reporting to Government with its evaluation of He Waka Eke Noa progress towards the legislated milestones (see table above). 

The Government will consider this information and, by the end of 2022, the Ministers of Climate Change and Agriculture will put forward a report outlining a system to price emissions from agricultural activities as an alternative to the ETS. The Ministers' report must address:

  • How those emissions would be priced and accounted for
  • Which activities and participants would be included
  • The methodologies for calculating emissions and removals (sequestration)
  • What assistance (if any) would be given to participants, e.g. allocation of units
  • How methane emissions would be treated relative to other greenhouse gas emissions, including whether, how and what types of removals would be recognised
  • What information participants would have to provide and how that information would be used, shared or made publicly available
  • How participants and industry groups would be engaged in designing, implementing and operating the system
  • Who would be responsible for administering it
  • What legislative amendments might also be required

NOTE: If the legislated milestones aren't being met, the Government can bring agriculture into the ETS at the processor level before 2025. If the farm-level pricing system is not in place by 2025, agriculture will come into the ETS at the processor level. 

More information

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

Published: December 2, 2021