Burning cyclone and flood waste

Under this Order in Council, landowners in Hawke's Bay and Tairāwhiti – Gisborne can burn mixed waste on their properties as a permitted activity to help them meet key crop-growing timeframes. Conditions are in place to protect the environment and human health.


5 July 2023


15 December 2023

Read the Order

Order in Council for the Burning of Waste [New Zealand Legislation website]

What the Order does

The severe weather events in early 2023 left a significant number of mixed debris and waste piles in rural areas across the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti regions. 

Cyclone-damaged primary sector businesses (especially orchards, viticulture, vegetables and pastoral farming) are particularly impacted by these waste piles. The waste needs to be removed as soon as possible to meet key timeframes for growing crops. 

Given the difficulties around physically removing the waste and the time that would take, affected landowners requested permission to burn the mixed waste on their properties as in many cases it is the only feasible way of removing the waste quickly. The Government has put in place an Order in Council to classify open-air burning of cyclone and flood waste as a permitted activity, as long as certain conditions are met. 

The Order requires that anyone carrying out a burn submits a fire management plan to the relevant council prior to the burn.

Read more on the relevant council websites: 

Outdoor burning [Hawke’s Bay Regional Council website]

Burning cyclone and flood waste [Gisborne District Council website]

Who can burn waste under the Order

The Order applies to rurally zoned land used for commercial scale agricultural and horticultural purposes in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti Gisborne. It does not apply if the land is located in the Hastings Airshed or Napier Airshed.

When waste can be burned under the Order

All burns must be completed by 1 November 2023, with the Order then being revoked on 15 December 2023. The later date allows six weeks for landowners to complete any required soil testing and remediation while it is still a permitted activity.

Check the relevant council website for the last date you can submit a fire management plan.

When you need a fire management plan

You must complete a fire management plan if you are planning a mixed waste burn that includes prohibited items under the National Environment Standards for Air Quality and relevant regional plans. 

The fire management plan details what, where and when you are burning as well as the mitigations that are in place to help prevent fire escapes and to control discharges to the environment.

What to do if you would like to burn waste under this Order

Submit a fire management plan to your council

Anyone planning a waste-burning activity under this Order must complete a fire management plan and submit this to the applicable council at least two days before any planned burning activity.

Notify Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Anyone planning a waste-burning activity under this Order must also notify Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). This must be done at least two working days before the proposed waste burning activity is proposed to start. 

FENZ may have other requirements that need to be met depending on the circumstances of the burn.

The FENZ website includes:

Notify other relevant parties

Anyone planning a waste burning activity under this Order must notify the following parties. Notifications must be given during normal working hours and at least two days before the proposed start date:

  • Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency
  • the appropriate medical officer of health – see Public Health Contacts [Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand]
  • the owner or occupier of any land adjoining the land on which the waste burning activity is to be undertaken. 
    • If the burn could affect nearby railway infrastructure, KiwiRail will need to be notified.
    • The resources below may help if the owner or occupier of adjoining land is a hapū, iwi or Māori entity

Comply with all other permitted activity standards under the Order

Anyone conducting a burn must comply with the permitted activity standards that are set out in the Order in Council for the burning of waste schedule [New Zealand Legislation website]

This includes actions such as:

  • separating prohibited materials where possible
  • supervising the burn at all times
  • monitoring weather conditions and responding accordingly to any risks
  • remaining responsible for the burn
  • sampling the soil after the burn and remediating the site if necessary.

Councils will ensure compliance and monitoring of this temporary law change. If the fire management plan, or the regulations under the OIC are not adhered to, the relevant council may take enforcement action.

Anyone conducting waste burning activities remains responsible for any obligations or duties under the:

  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017
  • Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
  • other legislation that remains unchanged by this Order.