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Planning a project means juggling and coordinating many different factors and priorities in a way that will have the best possible outcome for your project, staff, stakeholders and the environment. Some of these factors are:

Health and safety

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires a duty of care by everyone involved in ESC projects to make sure that no one, including workers and all other visitors and the public, is exposed to health and safety risks arising from the works.

According to the Act, a business or PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) carrying out work at a site is responsible for the safety of people on and in the vicinity of the site. These responsibilities include providing a safe working environment, plant, systems and appropriate training, supervision and monitoring. Earthworks sites often require the contractor to establish and maintain a site-specific safety management plan (SSMP). As well as covering the general hazards on site such as plant movement and buried utility services, the SSMP should consider all health and safety aspects that are unique to ESC. You should communicate these to all parties before work starts.

Suppliers of the ESC devices and materials you use also have the same duty of care to make sure that the items they supply don’t expose people to health and safety risks.

Consider applying the Safety in Design (SiD) approach as you plan your approach. Your tools and methodologies must mitigate the exposure of workers and other persons to harm. Identify the hazards and risks throughout the lifecycle of the ESC tools that you are planning to use, and put adequate controls in place to eliminate or minimise the risks.

There is a lot of useful guidance on the WorkSafe New Zealand website.

Mana Whenua values

It’s important to have some understanding of how Māori/Mana Whenua are likely to view, value and participate in the design and development of the built environment within their ancestral rohe. This will enrich your planning and practice, and support the stakeholder engagement discussions.

As kaitiaki (guardians), Mana Whenua have the responsibility of making sure that the spiritual and cultural aspects of resources are maintained for future generations. This involves the ongoing protection of mauri from damage, destruction or modification.

Mauri is a concept recognised by Mana Whenua as the connection between spiritual, physical and temporal realms. Loosely translated as the life force or life essence which exists within all matter, mauri sits at the very core of sustainable design. A key concern is the effect on the mauri of water through the pollution of streams, rivers, catchments and harbours. This can be due to sediment entering waterways, loss of riparian (riverbank) margins, and the loss of native habitat to support native flora and fauna.

If freshwater quality degrades, this affects customary harvest and manaaki because there is less or, in some cases, no traditional mahinga kai resources. Modification or destruction of wāhi tapū and wāhi taonga is another potential effect of freshwater degradation.

As you plan and implement your project, you can revive and enhance mauri if you prioritise:

  • A holistic approach to resource management
  • Protecting the habitats of edible plants and native aquatic life, traditional food sources for local Māori
  • Avoiding the destruction of, and/or restoring a buffer of native vegetation alongside waterways
  • Conserving water
  • Avoiding mixing waters from different sources.

Watch Nigel Harris of Ngai Tūāhuriri talk about waterways, their values and importance to Ngāi Tahu:


The concept of sustainability rests on the three pillars of environmental protection, social development, and economic development – which are inherently interconnected. For example, New Zealanders feel strongly about using local suppliers wherever possible, for the interwoven range of benefits that it brings to the region and the project.

By adopting sustainable principles from the start of planning your project, you can achieve many benefits including community buy-in, reduced costs, environmental compliance and restoration. Sustainability principles are embedded within the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), and the Sustainability and ESC table gives specific guidance about how they relate to erosion and sediment control:

Sustainability and ESC
Planning and governance
Set sustainability priorities
Establish sustainability goals
Supply chain
Prioritise locally sourced materials
Factor environmental and social costs into procurement processes
Make sure that products are produced by companies whose values incorporate sustainability
Consider the lifespan, recyclability and reusability of materials
Design for deconstruction and disassembly
Wherever possible, maximise the features of the landscape and the materials existing on site
Design out waste from the start of the project
Implement waste management plans
Adopt the waste hierarchy into resource management practices (reduce, reuse, recycle)
Pursue zero waste
Plants / biodiversity
Avoid removing vegetation as much as possible
Eco-source plants
Use culturally and socially acceptable plants for the site/area, especially for permanent landscaping
Implement best management practices to avoid discharges to air, land and water
Energy Prioritise use of renewable energy
Adopt energy efficient practices
Measure water consumption and minimise water use on site
Earthworks strategy
Take a minimal earthworks approach / low impact design
Stage construction
Foster stakeholder participation
Support local industry
Take into account Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles
Adopt best practice health and safety