05 March 2015

Environment Commissioner makes recommendations on air quality

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has found that air quality in New Zealand is a good news story in her commentary on the Government’s 2014 Air Domain Report.

“The state of our air is generally good, as we would expect in a windswept maritime country with a small population and little heavy industry,” says Dr Wright. “Air quality is poorer in some towns and cities during cold calm days in winter, but, even in these places, air quality is high on most days.” 

“There has been great progress over the years,” said Dr Wright. “The Christchurch of my childhood was a very different city in winter to the one it is now. Then everyone lived in uninsulated houses heated with open coal fires.” 

But the Commissioner added that it is important that we keep on making progress. “Even at the relatively good levels of air pollution in New Zealand, there is real evidence of harm to New Zealanders’ health.” 

In her report released today, the Commissioner has recommended a review of the regulation governing the management of New Zealand’s major air pollutant, the tiny airborne particles called particulate matter. 

“This regulation is now ten years old, and it is time it was brought up to date with current scientific understanding.” 

The Commissioner’s report on air quality is the first commentary she has prepared under the Environmental Reporting Bill, due to become law this year. Under the new system of environmental reporting, the Commissioner provides commentary on reports prepared by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand. 

Dr Wright commended the Ministry and Statistics New Zealand on what they have achieved in a limited amount of time, but identified seven areas for improvement. 

“There will never be a perfect state of the environment report – the challenge is one of incremental improvement.” 

Dr Wright will be giving a public lecture on air quality at Lincoln University at 7.30pm on Thursday 12 March. 

Dr Wright’s report, The state of air quality in New Zealand, is available here.

Click here to view a set of frequently asked questions. 



For more information please contact:

Dan Ormond - 027 251 9849