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Funding and scholarships

Photo of coinsOn this page / in this topic: Regional Development Fund, Environmental Initiatives Fund, Natural Heritage Fund, Enviroschools Grant Fund, Small Scale Community Initiatives FundWaikato River Clean-up Trust, Dr Stella Frances Scholarship, Roger Harris (Waihou Valley Scheme) Scholarship


Regional Development Fund

The Regional Development Fund supports regionally significant projects which promote regional economic development, and are achieved in a way that also enhance environmental, social and cultural outcomes. 

The focus of the fund is primarily on enabling economic development as it has been determined this is where the greatest opportunity lies for better outcomes for the region in the use of the fund. However, this development must occur in a way that provides for a win-win for both the economy and the environment. i.e. ‘green growth’.  

Waikato Regional Council will consider investing up to 50 per cent of project costs on a case-by-case basis. Investment in any project is at the discretion of Waikato Regional Council. 

The council will work with potential project partners as ideas are developed. A procedures manual has been developed to guide potential project partners through the process. This is available on request.

Find out more about the fund and how Waikato Regional Council can support regional development projects by emailing Katie Mayes, Manager Strategy, and by reading the:

Regional Development Fund Policy

Frequently asked questions.

Natural Heritage Partnership Programme

Waikato Regional Council has been supporting the work of people to make a better environment right across our region through three funds which have been in place for between five and 22 years – the Natural Heritage Fund, Environmental Initiatives Fund (including the Enviroschools Fund) and Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund.

The number of groups, level of participation, and size and complexity of the projects has changed over this time, with a number of them calling on us to change the way we support and fund them.

Through the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan, Waikato Regional Council agreed to rebrand the funds into a single programme - the Natural Heritage Partnership Programme - and to widen the criteria to include multi-year funding and assistance with ongoing project coordination costs.

A funding policy including refreshed criteria and application guidelines is attached below. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project proposals with council staff before applying to any of the funds.

Natural Heritage Partnership Programme Funding Policy

Natural Heritage Fund

Image of people and kiwiWaikato Regional Council’s Natural Heritage Fund was established in 2005 to protect and manage, in perpetuity, special places of ecological significance. Key priorities include the preservation of access to waterways and the coast, as well as protection of biodiversity, heritage sites and landscapes of significance to the community. Natural heritage projects have very long term, inter-generational benefits.

To date, the Natural Heritage Fund has been used for a wide range of projects including Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust, Waipa peat lakes reserves and the purchase of the Ed Hillary Hope Reserve.

In keeping with the significance and size of these projects, we’ve recognised that the level of accountability, monitoring and reporting will increase with the size of the grants.

Waikato Regional Council welcomes the opportunity to discuss potential Natural Heritage Fund proposals with community groups. Please contact Alan Saunders on 07 8592776 for further information.

Environmental Initiatives Fund

Waikato Regional Council's Environmental Initiatives Fund (EIF) is funded through the natural heritage targeted rate and provides one-off grants to community group projects that:

  • enhance the environment
  • promote and/or contribute to sustainable management of the environment
  • raise community awareness of environmental issues
  • provide environmental education.

EIF grant amounts range from $5,000 to $40,000. For small, community led projects under $5,000, funding requests should be directed to the Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund.

EIF applications are reviewed by Council. 

Find out more about the Environmental Initiatives Fund, including information on making an application and application forms.

For further information please contact Judy van Rossem on 07 859 0893.

Photo of Enviroschools bannerEnviroschools Grant Fund

Waikato Regional Council's Enviroschools Grant Fund assists Enviroschools with environmental projects. The fund provides one-off grants to projects that directly enhance and/or benefit the environment or provide environmental education.

Find out more about the Enviroschools Grant Fund, including information on making an application and application forms.

Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund

The Small Scale Community Initiatives Fund (SSCIF) is funded through the biosecurity targeted rate and is designed to support volunteer community groups and individual landowners undertaking ecological restoration initiatives within the Waikato region. The principal purpose of the fund is to enable the purchase of materials, up to the value of $5,000, used in pest animal / plant pest control and / or for plants in ecological restoration projects. Find out more, including how to apply, here.

Waikato River Clean-up Trust 

The Waikato River Authority is a statutory body formed under the Waikato-Tainui Raupatu Claims (Waikato River) Settlement Act 2010 and the Ngati Tuwharetoa, Raukawa, and Te Arawa River Iwi Waikato River Act 2010. The authority has 10 members who are appointed by the river iwi and ministers of the Crown.

The authority is the sole trustee of the Waikato River Clean-up Trust whose role is to fund projects that will improve the health and wellbeing of the Waikato River.

Read the funding strategy (external link) for more information.

To find out more about making a funding application, including the application form, visit the Waikato River Authority website at (external link)


Dr Stella Frances Scholarship

The Department of Conservation and Waikato Regional Council jointly sponsor this scholarship for students in the final year of a master's degree at the University of Waikato. The Dr Stella Frances Scholarship, to the value of $5,000 per year, is available to students studying environmental issues in the Waikato region. The scholarship is intended to defray research expenses.

Photo of Dr Stella FrancesAbout Dr Stella Frances

Dr Stella Frances (1948-2003) served just a few months of her third term as a Waikato Regional Councillor in 1993 when she was offered the position of Waikato Conservator for the Department of Conservation.

Typical of her humanity, Stella was at first concerned for the people who had worked so hard to get her elected to the council and for the expensive by-election her acceptance would cause. Reassured by her supporters, Stella joined the Department on International Women’s Day – March 8, 1993.

After noting through previous experience “the ability of government departments to insulate themselves from the community”, Stella made the appreciation of community perspectives a hallmark of her own work, both in the Waikato and in Auckland, where she moved to in 1997. Stella was widely appreciated for her ability to relate with tangata whenua, departmental associates and local communities.

Having earlier trained as a freshwater scientist with a PhD in freshwater ecology, Stella likened her later career to that of an ‘environmental GP’, playing a role for ecology similar to that of a general practitioner in health. Her greatest passion over the last four years of her life was the Firth of Thames marine and estuarine ecosystem.

Stella Frances died in August 2003. She was a constant source of inspiration to staff and people in the community who worked with her, in both her personal and professional life. Her commitment to our environment is perpetuated in this scholarship.

Information for applicants

Find out more about the scholarship, including eligibility and how to make an application, in the PDF below. The application closing date is 5pm, Friday, 16 December 2016.

Dr Stella Frances Scholarship - information for applicants (1mb)

You can also watch this video clip to find out a bit more about the scholarship.

Roger Harris (Waihou Valley Scheme) Scholarship

The Roger Harris (Waihou Valley Scheme) Scholarship is dedicated to helping students whose families live in the Waihou Piako zone rating area study civil engineering or resource management with a particular focus on river and catchment management.

It provides up to $6,000 toward the cost of university fees.

About Roger Harris

This scholarship marks the contribution of the late Roger Harris (chief engineer to the then Hauraki Catchment Board 1959-1983) to the development and initial implementation of the Waihou Valley Scheme. This scheme – which includes river and catchment management infrastructure worth almost $130 million – covers a catchment of approximately 220,000 hectares on the eastern side of the Hauraki Plains and Thames Valley. It allows around an extra 50,000 hectares of land to be farmed safely. 

Find out more about this scholarship, including application details.

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