02 July 2015

Parliamentary Update - July 2015

Dr Jan Wright, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment


Tēnā koe


Two of the biggest environmental challenges facing New Zealand are climate change and water quality. I’m pleased with the progress the Government has made on water policy, advised by the Land and Water Forum. On New Zealand’s response to climate change, less progress has been made, so I’d like to see a similar collaborative approach taken.

Over the course of the year I've enjoyed meeting new Members of Parliament, presenting to select committees, and briefing party spokespeople on my reports. I appreciate these in-depth discussions, and thank Members for their continued interest.

I have listed my latest work below:

Managing water quality: Examining the 2014 National Policy Statement

The NPS on Freshwater Management is a major step forward, but we are not out of the woods yet, in many places, water quality continues to decline. I made six recommendations to better protect water quality.

Update report - Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution

This update showed that the conversion of sheep/beef farms to dairy farms has continued, but predicted increases in forested land have not begun to occur. This is not good news for water quality.

Submission on New Zealand's contribution to the new international climate change agreement

Here I called on the Government to establish a collaborative forum to develop a plan for meeting emission reduction targets, as the Land and Water Forum has done for water quality. New Zealand is expected to table a contribution that is "fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances" ahead of the December's climate change conference in Paris.

The state of air quality in New Zealand: Commentary by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on the '2014 Air Domain Report'

I found that air quality in New Zealand is generally a good news story, but it is important we keep making progress. I recommended that the Government review our current air quality standard, and outlined seven areas for improvement in future 'state of the environment' reports.

Update report - Investigating the future of conservation: The case of stewardship land

I am pleased that Ministers are acting on the recommendations from my 2013 report and I was heartened to see the creation of the Aotea Conservation Park on Great Barrier Island. However, I have called on the Department of Conservation to pick up the pace.

Copies of all my reports are freely available to Members and the wider public in hard copy, from my office, and in electronic form, on our website. Details of current work underway in the office can be found here. If you are a Twitter user, follow this account for the latest news from my office.

In closing, I remind all Members that I am available to meet and discuss matters concerning the environment. 

Ka mihi kia koe, naku noa,


Dr Jan Wright