Our role and purpose

We are the Government’s primary adviser on environmental matters. We also have a stewardship role. This involves taking a long-term perspective on environmental issues when making decisions. 

Our Ministry was established under the Environment Act 1986. The Act requires us to think broadly as we develop our advice. 

This means considering the:

  • intrinsic values of ecosystems
  • values people place on the environment
  • principles of the Treaty of Waitangi
  • sustainability of natural and physical resources
  • needs of future generations.

We’ve wrapped this into the simple purpose statement for the Ministry: He taiao tōnui mō ngā reanga katoa – a flourishing environment for every generation.

Our work

Legislative and regulatory change

We provide policy advice to enable the Government’s legislative and regulatory agenda. This is core business for us. It includes working with others to understand the implications of proposed changes and ensure legislation and regulations are fit-for-purpose.

Policy implementation

We are putting a greater emphasis on supporting the implementation of government policies. This includes a stronger regional presence and relationships. Insights from this work help us to ensure our policy advice is well informed.

Organisational development

We invest in the development of our people, functions and capabilities to ensure we are well placed to deliver on the Government’s work programme and future needs.

Partnerships and engagement

We partner with others in a number of ways. We play a key role in meeting Crown commitments under Treaty of Waitangi settlements.

We work with our environmental system partners to accelerate change and improve environmental outcomes for both the economy and society. This work includes supporting positive action by local communities and individuals. 

Investment and funding

We administer funding to support New Zealand’s economic recovery and invest in the environment. We have funds for freshwater, waste, remediating contaminated sites, community environment projects and the Jobs for Nature programme. 

Environmental reporting

We track the impact our way of life is having on the environment under the Environmental Reporting Act 2015.

The data and evidence enable policymakers, businesses, community groups and individual New Zealanders make decisions that help our environment, economy and people flourish.

Governance and leadership

We are the Crown monitoring agency for the:

We provide independent advice on the performance of these Crown entities and manage board member appointments.

We also manage board member appointments for several environment sector statutory boards and other Ministerially appointed positions including the:

  • Waste Advisory Board
  • Fiordland Marine Guardians
  • Kāhui Wai Māori
  • Environmental Legal Assistance Fund
  • Waste Minimisation Fund Panel
  • Waikato River Authority
  • Te Pou Tupua (for Te Awa Tupua). 

Find out more

Our statement of intent outlines:

  • what we plan to do to give effect to government priorities
  • our stewardship role
  • how our performance can be measured.

It also describes the way we will go about our work and how we are improving our capabilities over time.