The Government is reviewing Aotearoa/New Zealand’s conservation laws and has released a roadmap setting out its work programme.

The existing legal framework includes 24 (generally outdated) statutes, including the Wildlife Act, Reserves Act, Marine Mammals Protection Act, Marine Reserves Act, and Conservation Act.

The reforms will be comprehensive and will involve reviewing the whole conservation framework.

While the timelines around this broader reform work are yet to be determined, the roadmap does set out some timelines for making changes around the Wildlife Act, the Trade in Endangered Species Act, Hauraki Gulf marine protection, conservation management and processes, and reclassifying stewardship land.

The Government will carry out a full first-principles review of the Wildlife Act, which Minister of Conservation Hon Kiri Allan states is “outdated, does a poor job at protecting many species … and it doesn’t reflect Treaty principles or support customary use”.

The Minister cites a recent situation involving pekapeka (long-tailed bats) as an example of where the Wildlife Act failed to protect endangered species.

In that case, Department of Conservation (DOC) was able to grant an application for pekapeka to be accidentally killed during the construction of a motorway, but could not consider an application to relocate them.

The Minister describes the review of the Wildlife Act as “fundamental reform”, which will form the foundation for the longer-term reform work.
DOC expects to report back to Cabinet on its progress in 2023.

In terms of the Trade in Endangered Species Act, the roadmap anticipates that Parliament will repeal the existing legislation and enact new legislation in 2022.

This new legislation will be more efficient and will strengthen the regulation of elephant ivory.

New legislation will also be introduced to establish High Protection Areas and Seafloor Protection Areas in the Hauraki Gulf, which the Government plans to enact in 2024/2025.

The Government also intends to make conservation management and processes more streamlined and to clarify and simplify the process for reclassifying stewardship land. To those ends, the roadmap anticipates amended legislation being enacted in 2023.

Of course, these timelines can be updated and it will be important to monitor DOC’s website for opportunities to engage in these processes.

The following consultation is currently open:

  • Consultation with mana whenua around High Protection Areas in the Hauraki Gulf – closes February 2022.
  • Public consultation around reclassifying stewardship land – closes 18 March 2022.