The Minister for the Environment appoints freshwater commissioners to create a group of highly skilled commissioners who will be placed on specific freshwater hearings panels (in a similar way that the Chief Environment Court Judge appoints Environment Commissioners).
Freshwater commissioners must be accredited under section 39A of the Resource Management Act 1991 and collectively they must have knowledge of and expertise in:
- judicial processes and cross-examination
- freshwater quality, quantity and ecology
- the Resource Management Act 1991
- tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori.
The freshwater commissioners are overseen by the Chief Freshwater Commissioner.