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Laws and treaties

The web page provides information on New Zealand’s environmental legislation and international environmental agreements.

Legislation

Since 1991, our environmental laws have contained a number of common themes. Chief among these is the principle of sustainability, which is now the umbrella principle for management of natural and physical resources, indigenous forests, and fisheries.

The Resource Management Act 1991 is the cornerstone of New Zealand’s environmental legislation. It sets out how we manage our environment, including air, water, soil, biodiversity, the coastal environment, noise, subdivision and land use planning in general.

Acts administered by the Ministry

A large number of laws touch on resource management. Those administered by the Ministry for the Environment are:

Acts administered by other departments

Some Acts dealing with aspects of resource management but dealt with by other departments include:

Full texts of all acts are available at the New Zealand Legislation website.

International environmental agreements

New Zealand has obligations under multilateral environmental agreements which are incorporated into our laws.

Multilateral environmental agreements result from countries working together on global environmental issues. The agreements may include non-legally binding commitments which parties will respect when considering actions affecting a particular environmental issue, or specify legally-binding obligations which must be met by parties to the agreement.

New Zealand also has international environmental obligations associated with free trade agreements.

For more information:

Last updated: 11 December 2013