About the Ministry for the Environment

This page provides information about our purpose, role, priorities, strategic direction, and legislative responsibilities.

Our role

We are the Government's principal adviser on the environment in New Zealand and on international environmental matters.

As we are not involved in day-to-day environmental management, we focus on providing:

  • environmental management systems including laws, regulations and national environmental standards
  • national direction through national policy statements and strategies
  • guidance and training on best practice
  • information about the health of the environment.

Our purpose

Our purpose is that Aotearoa New Zealand is the most liveable place in the world.

Our priorities

The long-term outcomes we are working towards are:

  • People are enabled to make and implement decisions that benefit society and the environment.
  • The use of the environment, including natural resources, is optimised for the betterment of society and the economy now and over time.
  • Risks to people and the environment are known, understood and well managed.
  • The capacity for the environment to sustain itself is safeguarded.

Our strategic direction

The Ministry’s strategic direction provides a clear outline of our mission, strategy and priorities. It focuses on developing our organisational culture to ensure long-term success and addresses the behaviours we need to carry out our work. 

Read our Four year plan 2016-2020

Our outcomes framework

The Ministry has developed an outcomes framework which details our long-term environmental goals and intermediate targets. We believe they will help us support New Zealand's economic, social and cultural prosperity without compromising our environment for future generations. 

See A generation from now: our long-term goals


Our Ministry was established under the Environment Act 1986 [New Zealand Legislation website]. 

We also have specific functions under the following Acts [links go to the New Zealand Legislation website].

Our annual Regulatory stewardship strategy, first published in September 2016, details our progress on the management of the above pieces of legislation.

Other work we are involved in 

In addition to our policy advice and implementation activities, we administer the following:

We also monitor the performance of the Environmental Protection Authority.

Our history

In 2016 we celebrated thirty years of protecting and safeguarding New Zealand’s environment.

To celebrate this milestone we created a website showcasing highlights from our past, stories from some of the many people we work with every day, and our goals for the future.