Nominations for Freshwater Champions Aotearoa New Zealand will open later this year. 

This will replace the Cawthron New Zealand River Awards. Watch this space and CLICK HERE to sign up to our newsletter for the latest news and updates.


Read more about the winners and finalists in 2021

Read more about past recipients

Cawthron New Zealand River Awards

The New Zealand River Awards have been running since 2013 to celebrate the efforts and achievements of people who are committed to improving freshwater health.

2021 Supreme Award – Catchment with Most Progress Toward Improved River Health

Recognises a catchment community that has made the most progress toward river health. This award has been renamed in 2021 and the judging criteria have been changed.

2021 River Story Award

Recognises an individual or community that has made major efforts to improve river health, with positive progress recorded.

2021 River Voice Award (Reo Mō te Awa)

Recognises an individual or group that has been an outstanding advocate or communicator about the issues facing New Zealand’s rivers and streams (the recipient of this award is selected by Trustees of the New Zealand Rivers Trust).

About the Cawthron New Zealand River Awards


The New Zealand River Awards were established in 2013 to recognise and celebrate efforts to improve freshwater health in New Zealand.

As one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent freshwater research organisations, Cawthron Institute is proud to deliver these Awards. Our scientific expertise, strong relationships with local government, freshwater managers and catchment groups throughout Aotearoa align with the long-term objectives of the Awards, which are to:

• Improve the health of New Zealand’s rivers and streams.
• Encourage greater community participation in measuring and reporting water quality.
• Highlight the actions being taken to restore freshwater health.


Chris Laidlaw, Wellington Regional Council - Second Place, Most Improved River Award 2017 (Waingawa River)

ExStream Project (Otago University) - River Story Award Winner 2017