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 would be for agriculture to come into the ETS, likely through a charge at the processor level. 

He Waka Eke Noa translates to "we're all in this together". The partnership was agreed after an extended period of consultation during 2018-19 on how agricultural greenhouse gas emissions should be treated. It is based on ' He Waka Eke Noa: Our Future in Our Hands - the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment [PDF, 1.7 MB] ' developed by the following organisations: 

  • Apiculture New Zealand
  • Beef + Lamb New Zealand
  • DairyNZ
  • Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand
  • Deer Industry New Zealand
  • Federated Farmers
  • Federation of Māori Authorities
  • Foundation for Arable Research 
  • Horticulture New Zealand
  • Irrigation New Zealand
  • Meat Industry Association 

What is He Waka Eke Noa doing?

At the centre of the He Waka Eke Noa partnership is the development of an alternative pricing system for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions that, if accepted by Government, will apply from 2025. A substantial programme is underway to develop that system and associated support for farmers and growers. Joint industry/Government/Māori working groups are developing: 

  • A farm planning approach
  • A system for reporting on-farm emissions
  • A simple, cost-effective programme that recognises on-farm sequestration that isn't currently included in the ETS
  • A farm-level pricing mechanism
  • 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 is a dedicated Māori workstream within the partnership, connecting and bringing together Māori agribusiness experts to ensure that a te ao Māori perspective is integrated throughout the programme of work and that the views of Māori farmers, growers and landowners are reflected. 

What do farmers need to do now?

As well as developing the pricing system, He Waka Eke Noa 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, as well as provisions to determine whether progress is being made, have been included in the climate change legislation. They include:

Milestone Deadline
Guidance issued on how to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions through farm planning 1 January 2021
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 He Waka Eke Noa 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, make sure to keep an eye out in November 2021 when the He Waka Eke Noa partnership will be seeking feedback from farmers and growers on the preliminary recommendations for the pricing system. 

When will decisions be made?

The He Waka Eke Noa partnership has to report to Government in March 2022 with its recommendations for an alternative on-farm pricing and sequestration system. This will incorporate the feedback received during the public consultation taking place in November 2021. 

Once the He Waka Eke Noa report is received, the Government has a period of time to consider the options. During the time, the Climate Change Commission will also review progress being made by the He Waka Eke Noa partnership, including against the legislated milestones, and will make a separate report to Government.

By the end of 2022, the Climate Change and Agriculture Ministers must put forward a report outlining the system that will price agricultural emissions 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: