Water use management is defined in the context of the New Zealand law and overall water resource management. A simple descriptive model is then introduced as a theoretical framework for examination of the management structures and procedures which are shown as links between the social and biophysical systems. A brief history of the evolution of water use management in New Zealand is outlined, using the development of legal controls as an index. The provisions of the principal enabling law, the 1967 water and Soil Conservation Act, and its subsequent amendments are detailed, and present the management regime discussed in terms of the general model. Problems and Issues with the present management framework are described. The Water Rights system and Water Quality Management (in particular - Classification) are dealt with in detail as the two major procedures, and other technical, administrative and legal issues are identified. The appropriateness of the present Water Rights and controlling agencies (the Regional Water Boards) for water use management is discussed. The topical subjects of land use planning and regional reorganisation are included. An attempt is made to place the New Zealand management in perspective, particularly in terms of overseas experience, and the study is concluded with a view of the prospects for the future.