The positive influence of community knowledge and involvement in policy development and decision making is highlighted in two very different examples from New Zealand: how a “bottom-up” approach resulted in an integrated management strategy for the Fiordland Marine Area, and how Maori cultural values were incorporated into mainstream freshwater resource management decisions. The Fiordland Marine Guardians were created in1995 to include Ngai Tahu, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism, environment, science and community interests. The group became the driving force through a process of sharing knowledge, identifying and resolving issues and developing an integrated strategy. Government agencies provided support and advice and implemented the strategy, passing special legislation that formalised an ongoing management role for the Guardians. The same process has subsequently been successfully applied to the Kaikoura Marine Area by the Kaikoura Coastal Marine Guardians. The Cultural Health Index for Streams and Waterways was developed by tapping into Maori knowledge and the way they value freshwater. This tool allows Maori to advocate their position more effectively and enables resource managers to incorporate cultural perspectives in decision making. The index has three components: traditional cultural importance, mahinga kai (food) value and stream ecosystem health. Information about the three components was gathered by local Maori for more than100 sites in four river catchments and stream health was assessed using cultural indicators developed by them. Comparison with a western index of stream health showed the two measures to be significantly correlated, giving water managers confidence in the cultural measure and input from Maori.