House flooding

Over the last few years, climate change events such as flooding and droughts have become more severe and impactful on New Zealander’s lives. As a response, the Government has proposed a draft national adaption plan that aims to build climate resilience over the next six years to the irreversible effects of climate change. This plan will work alongside the first emissions reduction plan set to be released on 16 May, which is less about resilience and more about reducing emissions.

The national adaptation plan has three system-wide focus areas, described below. It also proposes critical actions for the natural environment (including implementing the proposed national policy statement for indigenous biodiversity); homes, buildings and places; infrastructure; communities; and the economy and financial system.

Reforming institutes to be fit for a changing climate

New Zealand’s systems and institutions (including legislation) were designed for a more stable climate than we are now seeing. The draft national adaptation plan identifies a series of critical actions to address this, which includes reforming the resource management system, reforming institutional arrangements for water services, and modernising the emergency management system. The reforms to make systematic changes to these areas have already begun, which aim to clarify the roles and responsibilities of local governments and communities whilst planning for climate impact and risks.

Supplying data, information, tools and guidance to enable everyone to asses and reduce their own climate risks

There is already extensive information on New Zealand’s changing climate. However, the current system for collecting and managing data is inconsistent, can be difficult to navigate, and needs datasets that are more specific to the information requirements of iwi, hapū and Māori. The right tools and guidance are also needed to allow this (what is often uncertain) information to be used in managing climate risks, and in investing in climate resilience.

The draft national adaptation plan identifies a series of critical actions to address this, including designing and developing an Adaptation Information Portal, delivering targeted guidance, and exploring co-investment for flood protection in Westport – which has been subject to severe flooding over the last couple of years.

Embed climate resilience across government strategies and policies

To ensure the above changes and other future climate change solutions are implemented, they will need to be included into the Government’s work programme, including through Government investment into initiatives like the Climate Emergency Response Fund.


Alongside the national adaption plan, the Ministry for the Environment is seeking feedback on its related work around managed retreat and flood insurance, which will inform the initial policy development for the Climate Adaptation Act.

Consultation on the draft national adaption plan, managed retreat and flood insurance is currently open and submissions can be submitted online until 11:59pm on Friday 3 June 2022. For more information visit: