Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (“PCE”) is an Officer of Parliament, independent of the government of the day. The PCE reports, not to a Government Minister, but to Parliament itself. The PCE is separate from the Ministry for the Environment.

The PCE was established by the Environment Act 1986.

The PCE’s job is to hold the Government to account for its environmental policies and actions. It is an independent check on the capability of the New Zealand system of environmental management and the performance of public authorities in maintaining and improving the quality of the environment. 1304

The PCE’s functions include: 1305

  • Reviewing the system of agencies and processes set up by the Government to manage the country's resources, and report to the House of Representatives;
  • Investigating the effectiveness of environmental planning and management by public authorities, and advise them on remedial action;
  • Investigating any matter where the environment may be or has been adversely affected, advise on preventative measures or remedial action, and report to the House;
  • Reporting, on a request from the House or any select committee, on any petition, Bill, or any other matter which may have a significant effect on the environment;
  • Inquiring, on the direction of the House, into any matter that has had or may have a substantial and damaging effect on the environment;
  • Undertaking and encouraging the collection and dissemination of information about the environment; and
  • Encouraging preventive measures and remedial actions to protect the environment.

The PCE has wide powers to investigate and report on any matter where, in their opinion, the environment may be, or has been, adversely affected. Parliament, or any parliamentary select committee, may also ask the PCE to report on environmental matters. The PCE also has wide powers to report findings and make recommendations. However, the PCE does not have the power to make any binding rulings and nor can she reverse decisions made by public authorities. 1306

The PCE may investigate concerns lodged by members of the public. However, you need to first contact the public agency responsible and if you are not satisfied with its response you can make a complaint to the PCE. For more information about suggesting an investigation:

For more information:

  1. PCE Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (30 June 1995)

  2. Section 16 Environment Act 1986

  3. Sections 18 and 19 Environment Act 1986

Last updated at 11:18AM on January 4, 2018