Air quality is fundamental to the health of all New Zealanders, especially in the winter months when air quality becomes an issue for many towns across the country.

Regional Councils throughout the country monitor air quality for their regions and now this vital information is being published in real-time on the environmental monitoring website – Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) – showing details on the air that we breathe.

LAWA shows the latest hourly and daily data for PM10, an air pollutant, as well as longer-term seasonal and annual trends.  This adds to the existing information on the LAWA site which monitors the quality of for New Zealand’s other most valuable natural resource – our water.

“Good air quality is fundamental to our health, and over the winter months, air quality can be an issue for many towns in the colder areas of New Zealand,” said Stephen Woodhead, chair of Local Government New Zealand’s regional sector.

“LAWA shows how air quality changes over time in towns throughout New Zealand, and what the biggest contributors are for poor air quality.  While regional and unitary councils use air quality monitoring data to determine how air quality needs to be managed in their regions, each and every one of us can take steps such as choosing low emission home heating to improve the air quality where we live.”

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Alistair Humphrey said “Poor air quality is a silent killer which accounts for more than 2300 premature deaths in New Zealand every year. About one half of these deaths are from man-made pollution. The LAWA website is a great collaborative initiative which means anyone can see how their environment is changing – for better or for worse. The addition of air quality measures to the website will help citizens see how policy is affecting the air quality in their region. I commend anyone with an interest in their environment to have a look at this excellent website.”

LAWA has data available from around 150 air monitoring sites in New Zealand, this brings the number of sites that LAWA reports environmental information on to nearly 3000, allowing those who have an interest in our air, waterways and beaches to understand more about the current state of these environments.

LAWA was launched in 2014 and is a collaboration between New Zealand’s 16 regional and unitary councils, the Cawthron Institute, Ministry for the Environment and has been supported by The Tindall Foundation.  A New Zealand first, LAWA allows people to access information about the quality and availability of New Zealand’s natural resources in one place and in a common, easy to understand format.  LAWA also features the River of the Month video series, which profiles what community groups are doing in their regions to protect and restore local water ways.

Mr Woodhead said LAWA will continue to expand, with a new groundwater quality data module planned next.

LAWA will also contribute to the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand’s national environmental reporting regime.