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

Fresh water quality

Why is this indicator important?

Clean water for recreational purposes is fundamental to enjoyment of life and ensuring people are not exposed to significant health risks. Clean freshwater is also important for tourism as well as fishing activities.

Fresh water suitability for recreation, 2006-2018


  • In 2018, 76% of monitored fresh water recreation sites were given suitability for recreation grades of fair, good or very good over the summer bathing months, down from 2016 when 87.5% were tested as suitable for recreational use.
  • Even though the number of monitoring sites has changed slightly over the study period, long-term trends show fluctuations in the number of freshwater sites with a suitability for recreation grades of fair or better.

Fresh water quality

Definition and data details

Indicator Definition

The number of freshwater swimming spots with suitability for recreation grades of fair, good or very good expressed as a function of the total number of swimming spots sampled.

Data Source

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Last updated April 2019

Data available only for 2006 to 2018.

Only selected sites around the region are monitored, and the number of sites monitored has changed over the study period. Measurements are only taken over the summer bathing months.

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.