How we make decisions

The EPA follows a careful process to make decisions about hazardous substances and new organisms. This is a detailed transcript of our short video about our process.

Watch the video about how we make decisions

The video uses simple, colourful graphic images to convey the steps in the process. It is narrated by a young male voice, and has soft modern music playing under the narration. 

Audio:

In Aotearoa New Zealand we enjoy a unique environment, culture and way of life that deserves protecting.

A soft music soundtrack plays under the narration throughout the video.  

Visual:

A simplified graphic representation of a bird’s-eye view over New Zealand. The scrolling view shows hills with windmills on the left, paddocks and a braided river in the centre, and a narrow strip of trees and farmland on the right. Semi-transparent white clouds move across the screen, and as the view slowly moves down, there is also a small red tractor at work.

Audio:

It’s up to us, the Environmental Protection Authority, to make tough decisions on regulating a wide range of products, substances and organisms such as fireworks, fertilisers, face paint, and even foxes.

Visual:

The rural scene transitions to a busy port, with neat stacks of shipping containers. The view continues to scroll down slowly, first showing a large ship unloading containers, then moving down to show a shipyard building, and then it shows closer views of containers. Four of them are open, showing boxes labelled with “fireworks”, “fertiliser” and “facepaint”. The last container has bars like a cage, and inside there are two foxes with large ears (fennec foxes).

Audio:

As an example, let’s imagine someone applies to us to import a new kind of anti-fouling paint for their ship. It’s on us to decide if that’s a good idea for Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Visual:

A person wearing yellow safety overalls is standing in front of a blue open shipping container, unpacking a box labelled “ANTIFOULING PAINT”. The person pulls a paint can out of the box, then glances at the can several times, hands on hips.

Audio:

To make that decision we need to make a balanced and fair assessment of the evidence. We do this by following a step-by-step process.

Visual:

The video zooms in on the can of paint, showing it against a dark yellow background. The can spins slowly, showing its label. The front of the label has the words “Marine Paint" in a blue band at the top, beside a simplified square logo. Large font in the centre says “Antifouling paint”. Beneath that, it has the word “red” in red font, with a squiggle of red beside it. As the can turns it reveals part of the back of its label, but not enough to discern any detail.

As the narration says “step-by-step process”, three white circles appear under the paint can. The circle on the left moves quickly to the left of the screen, leading us onto a different scene.

Audio:

The first step is to gather information about what’s in the paint. This comes from the applicant, scientific reports, other trusted regulators, or public submissions.

There are mouse click sound effects to convey the idea of selecting information from different panels, and electronic beeping noises to suggest the selected information has been added to the analysis.

Visual:

The white circle moves to the centre of a four-panel information dashboard. The dashboard has simplified graphs and blocks of text. Some headings are legible, but the body text is shown as lines and dots. In the left panel there are sections titled “Properties and effects”, “Paint composition”, “Safety” and "The hazards".  In the middle two panels there is an image of a paint can, and several generic head-and-shoulders silhouettes, suggesting personal profile listings. In the right panel, there are five speech bubbles. Three are empty, one reads “It’s harmful t…” and the other reads “Alternative”.

The white circle expands, and a red box labelled “Analysis” appears inside it. A black mouse cursor icon also appears, and then selects the “Paint composition” section and drags it into the analysis box in the centre. It scrolls down the panel with profile listings, then selects the “Alternatives” speech bubble from the right-side panel.

The shot then pans back to previous yellow screen with the large paint can, with the white circle following with it, this time along a thin blue line. The white circle has now turned bright green. This green circle is followed by a blue line that has little white circles spaced along it. The green circle returns to its position under the paint can, alongside the two other white circles.

Audio:

The second step is to make an assessment. We carefully weigh up the risks and benefits of the paint. We consider how it might positively or negatively impact the environment, the economy, public health, Māori interests, and our international obligations.

There are sound effects to suggest balls dropping.

Visual:

We follow the middle white circle as it drops down to become part of a new scene. There is a traditional set of balance scales, on a mid-grey background, and the white ball becomes the central pivot point of the scales.

Green balls begin to fall into the right side of the scale, and red balls fall into the left side. Eight balls of slightly different shades and sizes fall into each side, leaving the pans full but not overflowing.

The white circle now leaves the scale, and moves back up the screen to return to the previous yellow screen. It resumes its position under the paint can. Like the other circle to its left, it is now bright green, and is followed by a blue line with small white circles spaced along it.

Audio:

The third step is to consider whether rules are needed to remove, prevent or minimise any risks associated with the paint.

Visual:

The final white circle now moves off to the right of the yellow screen, into a new scene. It expands to form a large circle border, and as it does this a coloured dial appears inside it. It is coloured in a gradient from green on the left, to yellow in the middle, and into red on the right. The dial swings from the right to rest on a mid-yellow position on the left. 

Icons showing different safety gear appear on the outer circle border – safety glasses, overalls, earmuffs, gloves, gumboots. They are ratcheted along the corder around to the left, and with each procession, the dial in the middle moves closer to the left, ending firmly in the green section.

The scene finishes with the white circle returning the left of the screen, back to its original position on the yellow screen under paint can. All three circles are now bright green, and each is followed by a blue line with small white circles spaced along it.

Audio:

Once the evidence is gathered and assessed, and ways to minimise risk have been evaluated, we make a decision to approve or decline the application.

Visual:

The can of antifouling paint spins slowly against the yellow background.

The three green circles underneath it press together to form one larger circle. This then splits in half and becomes two computer screen buttons. The one on the left is green and says “Approve”, the one on the right is red and says “Decline”. A black mouse cursor appears, hovers over the decline button, then selects “Approve”.

Audio:

Decisions like these are tough and we don’t make them lightly. That’s why we follow this process with all our decisions - whether it’s for fireworks, fertilisers, face paint, or foxes.

Visual:

The "Decline” button disappears, and the green “Approve” button is centred under the paint can.

The view zooms out from the paint can, to reveal its new location. It is now under the hull of a large boat. Above it, there's a person on a ladder wearing full protective clothing, carefully use a spray-gun to spray red paint onto the boat. There are tarpaulins set up like a wall behind the boat.

Audio:

Visit epa.govt.nz to find out more.

Visual:

The view zooms away from the boat to focus on some boxes. The EPA’s web address appears on one box, while the Environmental Protection Authority | Te Mana Rauhī Taiao logo appears on another.