Regulatory stewardship

Regulatory stewardship involves monitoring, reviewing and reporting on existing regulatory systems to ensure they are having the desired effect.

Stewardship means ensuring that regulation is working to achieve its intended outcomes and remains fit-for-purpose over time. Ongoing assessment of the Acts and regulations that MfE develops and administers helps us take a proactive approach to ensuring we are always working to achieve our goals effectively and efficiently.

The Public Service Act provides that public service chief executives or boards are responsible for upholding, and ensuring the agencies they lead also uphold, five public service principles when carrying out their responsibilities and functions. “Stewardship” is one of those five principles and, as specified in the Public Service Act, that includes proactively promoting stewardship “of… the legislation administered by agencies”.

Government expectations for good regulatory stewardship include:

  • monitoring, reviewing and reporting on existing regulatory systems
  • analysing and supporting changes to regulatory systems
  • supporting regulated parties understand their obligations
  • equipping regulatory workforces with necessary knowledge and skills
  • identifying system vulnerabilities, systemic risks and responses to them
  • improving whole of system feedback loops and adaptive management
  • continuous evaluation and enhancement of our compliance with our Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations

MfE’s regulatory systems

MfE is responsible for a number of complex regulatory systems. These are sets of formal and informal rules, norms and sanctions, and designated actors, actions and practices that work together to shape people's behaviour or interactions in pursuit of a broad goal.

Our regulatory systems overlap and sometimes sit within each other. For simplicity, we think of our regulatory systems as being:

MfE’s approach to managing our regulatory systems

Regulatory impact analysis

Regulatory impact analysis (RIA) is a part of the many ways we measure and improve our advice. All our regulatory proposals must meet RIA requirements. We have embedded the RIA approach into our policy advice. This means we are clear about the problems we are addressing and the objectives.

We consider both regulatory and non-regulatory options (eg, product stewardship, education and marketing campaigns, and funding schemes) to determine how best to address the problem and achieve the objectives. We expect non-regulatory options, especially in partnership with different levels of government, iwi and stakeholders, to become more common in achieving lasting change.

Our independent Regulatory Impact Analysis Panel assesses our regulatory impact statements to determine whether they meet the requirements (ie, convincing, clear and concise, and consulted).

Regulatory impact statements are published on the Treasury’s website.


We have a mixture of monitoring arrangements, reflecting the range of systems and instruments we administer. Internal monitoring systems include the National Monitoring System for the RMA and the environmental reporting programme with Stats NZ. These allow us to understand how (and how well) systems work. We also draw heavily on councils and stakeholders, public consultation, and data collected under individual systems and by other agencies.


We have periodically published reports that assess the performance of our various regulatory systems in meeting their overall purposes. We published reports in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Regulatory Stewardship Strategy Reports