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?

Agriculture is the only sector not currently facing a price in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). However, with 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 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. 

The partnership is developing a practical framework to support farmers to measure, manage and reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. This includes: 

  • A pricing system for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to the ETS
  • A system for reporting on-farm emissions
  • An approach for recognising on-farm sequestration 
  • Farm planning guidance and other supporting research and extension activities 

What does this mean for farmers?

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
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. 

Understanding 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.  

When will decisions be made?

Engagement with farmers and growers on the different pricing options took place from late 2021 until March 2022. Work is now underway to develop a recommendations report to Government on the preferred pricing system. This report is expected to be released in early June 2022. 

The Government is also due to receive two reports from the Climate Change Commission: 

  • In late May, the Commission will provide advice on what financial assistance, if any, should be given to participants in a future pricing system
  • In late June, the Commission will report back on its evaluation of progress towards the legislated He Waka Eke Noa milestones around farmers knowing their numbers and having a plan 

From there, the Government will consider all this information and, by the end of 2022, the Ministers of Climate Change and Agriculture will put forward a report to Government 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: January 31, 2022