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Understanding New Zealanders’ attitudes to the environment

This page has information on research we commissioned to better understand what New Zealanders think about climate change, water and waste.

About the research

We commissioned Colmar Brunton to research what New Zealanders think about climate change, water and waste. This information is important as we want to focus on issues that are important to New Zealanders.

We also wanted to know who they felt is responsible for addressing issues and what environmental issues New Zealanders need more information on.

Cover slide of presentation


Environmental Attitudes Baseline research [PDF, 6.72 MB]



A sample of the main findings


  • Around one in three New Zealanders are worried about climate change.
  • There is support (62 per cent) for a more ambitious emissions target.
  • New Zealanders are optimistic that individuals can make a difference (62 per cent) and are responsible for doing so (75 per cent). However, many show a reluctance to ‘walk the talk’ by changing their behaviours. 


  • Of those surveyed, 82 per cent of New Zealanders feel that it is very or extremely important to improve the quality of our water.
  • New Zealanders feel that improving water quality is the responsibility of the Government, businesses, and farmers. However, they do not consider that any of these groups are doing enough.
  • New Zealanders have a lower sense of personal responsibility for water quality, and there is generally low awareness of household behaviours that can impact water quality.


  • Of those surveyed, 50 per cent of New Zealanders are very or extremely worried about the impacts of waste.
  • New Zealanders feel that the responsibility for waste reduction falls on everyone, but that the Government is not currently doing enough.
  • Reducing waste was rated as the third most important challenge facing New Zealand over the next 20 years, behind fixing hospitals and providing affordable housing.