Environmental » Healthy Environment

We have clean water, fresh air and healthy soils. Well-functioning and diverse ecosystems make up an environment that can support our needs. Resources are used efficiently. There is minimal waste and pollution.

What is Healthy Environment?

Good air, water and soil quality, and reducing waste are all essential to maintaining a healthy environment and ensuring the sustainability of resources. Water-based recreational activities are part of an outdoor-focused way of life and it is essential that the water is of a high quality. Protecting land through open space covenants also helps maintain ecosystem diversity, along with natural and cultural heritage. Primary land uses such as agriculture, dairying and cropping are key contributors to an economy but they can have a negative influence on the environment. 

16 indicators are used to measure progress towards the healthy environment outcome (defined above). Data relating to each individual indicator (for the 2001 to 2018 period) is provided via the menu below. The healthy environment index (pictured below) shows the composite average of the individual indicators.

As there is only one community outcome under environmental well-being, the same index is applied to both the well-being aspect and the community outcome area.

kapiti island from QEP dune

Healthy environment, 2001-2018

What this means

The healthy environment index increased between 2001 and 2018 by 8.6%.


The index exhibits some fluctuations, exacerbated by indicators such as stream and river health, landfill waste and GHG emissions per capita that, whilst demonstrating improvement when viewed across the entire time series, experienced sharp declines in some years, and notable increases in others.


Key improvements relate to the suitability of marine and freshwater sites for recreation, and the per capita water supply (a measure of sustainable water consumption). Two indicators that have not shown signs of improvement however are soil quality of dairy farm sites and perception of air pollution as a problem.

Did you know?

Using GDP, smoking has traditionally been counted as a benefit to the economy. With a GPI, smoking is regarded as a cost

16 Indicators are being used to track Healthy Environment in the Wellington region

Click on each indicator below to access further information

Download Territorial Authority data for these Indicators

Drystock soil quality

Why is this indicator important?

Drystock farming consists predominantly of pasture grazing beef cattle, sheep, and deer for meat, wool, and velvet production. Drystock farms can cover large areas of hill-country grassland that may be steep and prone to erosion. Increasing the number of animals per hectare to maximise production may have detrimental effects on soil structure, drainage, and productivity, especially when soils are prone to flooding and erosion around waterways, which increases runoff of sediment and associated nutrients. The type of fertilisers used and the grasses and crops grown will also influence overall productivity and environmental impacts. Drystock sites cover the greatest land area across the Wellington region.

Soil quality of drystock sites, 2003, 2008 and 2015


  • In 2015, 85% of drystock sites had no more than one soil quality indicator outside the target range.
  • The percentage of drystock sites with no more than one soil quality indicator outside the target range changed little between 2003 and 2015 (from 86% to 85%). As only three data points are available, the results should be interpreted with caution.

Drystock soil quality

Definition and data details

Indicator Definition

The number of drystock monitoring sites with no more than one soil quality indicator outside the target range expressed as a function of the total number of drystock monitoring sites

Data Source

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Last updated April 2017

Data available only for years shown.

Changes in soil quality at drystock sites manifest slowly. As of 2008, all drystock sites are sampled in the same month, every seventh year.

In order to provide optimal comparability in this indicator, the samples taken between 2000 and 2003 are aggregated (into a single figure attributed to 2003).

As only two data points are available, the trend should be interpreted with caution. Only selected sites around the region are monitored, and the number of sites monitored has changed over the time series presented. More information is available at www.gw.govt.nz/Annual-monitoring-reports/

Indicators are updated in May and November each year; for those indicators where new data or survey results have become available.

While care has been taken in processing, analysing and extracting information, we cannot guarantee that the information is free from error and we shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of any information, product or service.