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?

The GPI counts our health-care costs created by smoking, not exercising, eating poorly and becoming obese, as costs, not gains, to the economy.

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

Groundwater quality

Why is this indicator important?

Nitrate is a commonly measured indicator of groundwater quality. Compliance with the national standard should ensure that it is safe for the water to be used for human (and stock) consumption.  Elevated nitrate concentrations may indicate a health risk as well as a risk of adverse impacts on the water quality in rivers and lakes, and in freshwater ecosystems. Greater Wellington Regional Council uses a threshold of less than 3mg/L of nitrate (measured as nitrate nitrogen) as their indicator of good water quality.

Groundwater quality, 2007-2018


  • In 2018, median nitrate concentrations were low (<3mg/L) in 83% of monitored bores.
  • Groundwater quality results have improved over the study period. The highest percentage of sites with low median nitrate concentrations was in 2013.

Groundwater quality

Definition and data details

Indicator Definition

The number of groundwater monitoring sites that have median nitrate concentrations in the <0.002-3.0mg/l range expressed as a function of the total number of groundwater sites monitored

Data Source

Greater Wellington Regional Council

Last updated April 2019

Data available only for 2007 to 2018

Only selected sites around the region are monitored, and the number of sites monitored has changed over the study period. Groundwater quality, particularly in shallow aquifers, is also strongly influenced by rainfall and river flows.

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.