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About the Ministry for the Environment

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

Our purpose – why we are here

Aotearoa – he whenua mana kura mō te tangata – to make New Zealand the most liveable place in the world.

To make New Zealand the most liveable place in the world, we need our environment to prosper.

We are incredibly lucky to have a wealth of natural resources at our doorstep – good access to water, productive land and a rich biodiversity. Over a thousand years, our culture, society and our economy have been built on the back of our environment and, for many, it’s why they want to live, work and visit here. 

But we are nudging up against environmental limits. Pressure is mounting on our waterways, marine environments and land. A growing population, booming agribusiness sector and growing tourism industry mean if we keep taking out more than we put back in, we are heading for irreversible damage.

We need to care for and invest in our natural resources, understanding the consequences of our decisions, and making wise choices that will benefit future generations.

An agency for the environment, and agents of change

Our job as an organisation is second to none; making sure that our amazing corner of the world stays that way. In a 100 years’ time we want to be the most liveable place imaginable, backed by evidence of our natural capital and what it takes to achieve sustainable prosperity. The whole country will be behind us.

And it is us – a collection of individuals – that will make it happen.

We look across the natural resources system to connect and mobilise all New Zealanders to make decisions that not only protect, but improve our natural resources.

Partnerships are key. We are working alongside all sorts of people and organisations to: improve fresh water quality, soil and ecosystems; move to a resilient and low-emission economy; have healthy air and sustainable, liveable cities; and be world-leading in how we manage our oceans.

What do we do? (our unique value proposition)

We connect, engage, influence and mobilise action across New Zealand to care for, manage and invest in our natural resources wisely, so our environment thrives along with our economy and people.

How do we do it?

We work with New Zealanders to create change and we are at the cutting edge of policy. We inspire, we listen, we engage, we invest, we provide the evidence, we make connections, and we monitor the system to see what’s working. We drive constant improvement across the environmental and natural resources systems.

Find out more about us

Our purpose

Read our latest Annual report

Our strategic direction

Our 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 2017-2021

Our outcomes framework

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

We also monitor the performance of the Environmental Protection Authority.

Our gender pay gap action plan 2020/21

Our target is to demonstrate, through our actions, we are committed to closing the gender pay gap amoungst our people.

See our gender pay gap action plan 2020/21.