Before contacting the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment with an environmental complaint, you should try to resolve your problem with the organisation that manages the issue. Here's what you need to do.
Your regional council is the best place to start. Regional council tasks include managing rivers, air quality, the coast, and soil - resources that are not generally owned by individuals. If the regional council is not responsible, it should be able to direct you to the correct place.
City and district council activities include rubbish collection, operation of wastewater treatment plants and landfills, and looking at how land use can affect the environment e.g. noise, new subdivisions and land development, native bush clearance, altering historic buildings, or anything else that might affect what the community has agreed is important.
The Ministry for the Environment (MFE) advises government on environmental issues. It also helps the Minister for the Environment keep an eye on the way councils do their jobs under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
If the issue involves the RMA, you can call MFE's freephone (0800 RMA INFO or 0800 762 4636) for advice. MFE's publication, An Everyday Guide to the Resource Management Act, may also be useful.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Minister of Conservation have a particular role under the RMA to keep an eye on the way the coastal environment is managed. DOC also manages national parks and conserves our natural and historic heritage.
Our frequently asked questions may help you to identify other responsible agencies.
In the first instance, direct your letter/email to the head of the organisation. For a government agency or council, this is the Chief Executive Officer. Alternatively, you can write to the elected official responsible.
For city or district councils, this is the Mayor
For regional councils, this is the Chairperson
For activities managed by central government, this is the responsible Minister (you can write to a Minister for free by addressing your letter to the responsible Minister, Parliament Buildings, Wellington).
What to include in the letter or email
Your written concern should be clear and to the point. Summarise in a couple of sentences exactly what it is about. Do not include excessive detail. Your letter should be set out in a logical order and could include:
a description of the incident or problem
details of any relevant phone conversations and meetings
any explanations you think are important
copies of relevant documents
how you would like the problem resolved
a request that your concern be acknowledged in writing and for an explanation of how it will be managed. If there is a degree of urgency involved, let them know and explain why.
Your concern should be expressed firmly but politely. Make sure your requests are reasonable. Tips when submitting complaints to public agencies
Keep copies of all letters and materials you send and receive, and to keep a record of telephone calls including dates, times, and what was said. This information may help if the organisation fails to adequately address your concern.
Be persistent. If nothing happens, call the organisation to check on progress. If they are not able to provide you with an update, then write again.
If the above steps don't work satisfactorily for you within a reasonable time, you may decide to take your your complaint further. Other avenues include contacting an elected official, your local Member of Parliament, the responsible Minister, or another body such as the Office of the Ombudsmen, the Office of the Auditor-General, or the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
If you decide to send a complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment please only include a brief summary of your concern in the letter/email. You will only be asked for the details and material associated with the complaint if the Commissioner decides to investigate further. See our ""Suggest an Investigation" page for further details.