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Whitebait stands

Photo of whitebaid stand

Managing whitebait stand structures

Under the Resource Management Act (RMA), it became illegal to build any structure on the bed of a river after 1991, unless the structure was expressly authorised. A structure could be authorised by a national environmental standard, a resource consent, or a rule in a regional plan. A regional plan is a rule book specific to a particular region, developed by the relevant regional council to manage natural resources within that region.

In 1998 when the Waikato’s first regional plan was developed, the regional council at the time decided that it did not want whitebaiters to have to meet the costs of obtaining and holding a resource consent to build whitebait stands, on the understanding that these were small structures (4 – 6 square metres) that would have no adverse effects on the environment. The regional council made these small structures a permitted activity, meaning no resource consent was required, providing all the conditions of the permitted activity rule were met (click here to view the permitted activity rule).

If all of the conditions are not met, the stand may still be authorised, but the owner will need to apply for a resource consent to specifically authorise it.

One of conditions of the permitted activity rule is that you must notify Waikato Regional Council of the stand's exact location. More information on this is provided below.

We are also proposing to start a discussion with the community when we review the regional plan in a couple of year's time to work out whether the current management of whitebait stands is appropriate.

What do whitebaiters need to do about their stands?

If you  have a stand, or are intending to construct one, you should:

  • Make sure you have legal access to the stand. The owner of the land where the stand is located has the right to refuse you permission to use or construct that stand.  So,if your stand is to be on private land, you must have the permission of the land owner to put it there or to use it. Even if you access your stand by water, the stand is still attached to the bank (as the regulations require). That means you must have the land owner's permission.
  •  Then notify Waikato Regional Council of your stand's location. We prefer to have the correct GPS co-ordinates for your stand. Once this has been recorded you will receive an identification number for your stand. There is no cost to this notification process, and completion of our notification form [PDF, 147 KB] will help you provide us with the required information.
  • Once we've recorded your details, you will receive an identification number for your stand. You should display your identification number on your stand.
  • Regularly check your stand is structurally sound (not rotten, and doesn’t sway on its piles.)