Minister and Department of Conservation

The Department of Conservation was established by the Conservation Act 1987. It is the lead agency in New Zealand for biodiversity conservation. A large part of the Department’s work involves managing Crown-owned conservation land (which comprises over a third of New Zealand’s land area) and protecting and rehabilitating endangered indigenous species and habitats.

The Department of Conservation has a broad function to advocate for the conservation of natural and historic resources. 1309  The definition of ‘natural resources’ in the Conservation Act includes living organisms, habitats, ecosystems, landscapes, landform and geological features. 1310  The Department of Conservation often participates in proceedings under the RMA in order to give effect to this function.

The Department of Conservation has undergone a number of restructures during its existence with the most recent occurring in 2013. The Department is now comprised of three groups: Conservation Partnerships, Conservation Services, and Kahui Kaupapa Atawhai. The Conservation Services Group is responsible for conservation work in the field. The Conservation Partnerships Group is responsible for growing conservation through partnerships. Kahui Kaupapa Atawhai leads the Department’s work engaging with whanau, hapu and iwi.

The Department administers much of the environmental legislation within New Zealand, including the Conservation Act 1987, the Reserves Act 1977, the National Parks Act 1980, the Marine Reserves Act 1971, and the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1987.

The Minister has a specific role in the management of the coastal environment (including the territorial sea) under the Resource Management Act. The Minister approved the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 which guides, and in some cases directs, the planning and decision-making functions of councils within the coastal environment. The Minister of Conservation also approves regional coastal plans prepared by regional councils under the Resource Management Act. The Minister also has a power to direct a regional council to commence a review of its regional coastal plan in certain circumstances.

For more information:

  1. Section 6(b) of the Conservation Act 1987

  2. Section 2 of the Conservation Act 1987

Last updated at 3:13PM on February 6, 2018