Current work

We are currently working on a significant body of investigations across a range of environmental issues.

Invasive plants

Tens of thousands of exotic plants have been introduced to Aotearoa New Zealand. Some of these plants have become invasive, causing significant harm to our natural and agricultural ecosystems.

The control of invasive plants in productive landscapes has received the bulk of public attention and funding, while the risks these plants pose to indigenous biodiversity has had a lower profile.

To address this gap, the Commissioner is embarking on a system-wide review of how invasive plant species are managed to identify what is working well and highlight areas where improvements would be beneficial, with a particular focus on indigenous biodiversity.

This review will also comment on the preparedness of the entire system for the future, including disturbances caused by increasing pressures from climate change and land use change.

Chemical contaminants

In recent years, the potential for hazardous chemicals to pollute the environment has had a relatively low profile in New Zealand compared to other environmental issues.

The Commissioner is investigating what we know about the environmental fate of chemical contaminants, and the effectiveness of the regulations designed to manage them, with a focus on the environmental impacts of these chemicals rather than human health problems arising from their use.

The treatment of a handful of specific substances will be used to illustrate the way in which current regulatory arrangements operate.


The Commissioner is exploring the link between environmental quality and wellbeing by evaluating current attempts by government agencies to integrate wellbeing analysis into budgetary decisions.

The project aims to understand how the relationship between the environment and wellbeing can be measured, what policy tools could be used to enhance this, and how wellbeing frameworks and wellbeing budgets can incorporate environmental benefits when weighing up policy and fiscal choices.

Landscape approach

New Zealand’s current land use patterns and land management practices are placing increasing pressures on the environment, such as greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and overexploitation of freshwater, biodiversity loss and soil erosion.

Land use change and the adoption of alternative land management practices can mitigate these risks and help preserve the mauri (life force) of the land. 

This investigation aims to explore what a landscape approach to climate policy would look like and how it could be implemented.

The Commissioner intends to build on the ideas outlined in the 2019 Farms, forests and fossil fuels investigation, and will explore how an integrated approach to land use management can achieve multiple environmental, social, cultural and economic outcomes at the landscape or catchment scale.

Advice to Parliament

Throughout the year, the Commissioner will provide advice to select committees on environmental bills. He may also make submissions on proposed environmental policies and regulations.


Updated: 23 June 2021

Did you know?

The Commissioner has a broad remit to investigate and report on any matter where, in his opinion, the environment may be, or has been, adversely affected.

Annual report 2020

Annual report for the year ended 30 June 2020 (PDF 589KB)

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