What we do

The work we do each day is about protecting the environment and enhancing a safe and sustainable way of life, and future, for all New Zealanders.

Video: We are the EPA, New Zealand's national environmental regulator

Our vision

What we do affects the everyday lives of all New Zealanders. We work to achieve our vision of an environment protected, enhancing our way of life and the economy.

New Zealand has some unique environments, a unique culture, and a special relationship with tangata whenua (indigenous people).

In doing our work we carefully balance social, economic, safety, and environmental factors to protect the way of life New Zealanders want now, and in the future.

Our governance

We are a Crown Agent established under the Environmental Protection Authority Act 2011. The Act helps the Government achieve its goal of growing our economy, while effectively protecting our natural environment.

We report to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Climate Change on issues relevant to their portfolios. The Ministry for the Environment monitors our activities and is the Government's principle advisor on environmental policy and legislation.

We have a number of advisory groups and decision-making committees:

  • The EPA Board
  • Ngā Kaihautū Tikanga Taiao - EPA Māori Advisory Committee
  • Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Committee
  • Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act boards of inquiry
  • Nationally Significant Proposal boards of inquiry

Find out more about our people

How we work

Our work must be done in a way that:

  • contributes to the efficient, effective and transparent management of New Zealand's environment and natural and physical resources
  • enables New Zealand to meet its international obligations.

We have particular responsibilties under the environmental Acts we manage.

Administer nationally significant proposals Plus

Projects such as new motorways, prisons, and wind farms can be approved under the Resource Management Act. Our role is to process these applications for proposals of national significance. This involves providing administrative support for the decision-making process, which can include supporting the Board of Inquiry and the hearing process.

Read more about Nationally Significant Proposals

Manage chemicals in New Zealand Plus

We decide whether or not to approve applications to import or manufacture pesticides, dangerous goods, household chemicals and other hazardous substances in New Zealand. We do this by assessing applications and weighing up the risks and benefits of these substances, using our risk assessment model.

Our HSNO risk assessment model (jpeg 1.59MB)

We create the rules to make sure the people who make and use these substances do so in a way that's safe for them and the environment. We also make sure the rules are followed (along with WorkSafe New Zealand and other agencies).

New Zealand also has international obligations relating to ozone-depleting substances, certain chemicals and hazardous waste. We make sure we meet those obligations.

Find out more about hazardous substances in New Zealand

Regulate activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone Plus

We are responsible for regulating certain activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (EEZ). This includes making decisions on applications for certain marine activities, monitoring compliance, and enforcing the rules.

Read more about the EEZ and our role

Administer the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme Plus

The Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS) is the way in which New Zealand reduces its greenhouse gas emissions. Our role is to administer and report on the Scheme, and to make sure participants follow the Scheme's rules. We also run the New Zealand Emissions Trading Register (the Register ), which is where participants trade 'carbon credits'.

Read more about the Scheme and the Register

Make decisions about New Organisms Plus

New organisms such as beetles and wasps can pose potential risks to the environment, people, and Māori culture and traditions. Our role is to make decisions on applications to introduce such living things that are new to New Zealand, and to manage those risks.

We do this by assessing applications and weighing up the risks and benefits of a new organism, based on our risk assessment model.

HSNO risk assessment model (jpeg 1.59MB)

Find out more about New Organisms

Public awareness Plus

From using cosmetic products, to carrying out marine scientific research, we have a role to play in helping people and businesses follow certain rules that are there to protect them and the environment.

We do this by providing guidance and information, as well as through enforcement, and in the most serious cases, prosecution.

We support and encourage people to take part in our decision-making processes, and provide guidance and information for people applying for approvals and consents.

We also promote the safe use of chemicals in and around the home through our website, social media channels, and getting out and about in the community.

Check out our Safer Homes campaign 

Science leadership Plus

Our team of scientists and technical experts contribute to science leadership both in New Zealand and internationally. We do this by providing advice on government environmental policy, legislations, and regulations.