Our approach to regulatory stewardship

Our approach to regulatory stewardship is informed by the Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice and the size and nature of our regulatory stock.

The 52 systems we oversee cover a wide span

This ranges from core infrastructure (such as the electoral and constitutional legislation) to occupational regulation (of private security personnel, for instance). For this reason, the systems evolve at different rates and require differing levels of attention over time.

Some of the systems are relatively stable and change little over time; for example, the constitutional arrangements systems, which sets out elements of Aotearoa New Zealand’s constitutional framework. While changes to these systems may be infrequent, they still need continual monitoring to ensure emerging problems and issues don’t escalate over time. This is particularly important for systems in the constitutional area.

Other systems need to be more agile and respond to a rapidly changing environment. For example, the financial offences system includes protections against money laundering and terrorism financing. These need to be responsive to ongoing changes in the risk landscape.

The very nature of the justice portfolio means that many of our policy options require regulation

This may be because the law needs to provide certainty so that people can go about their daily lives (for example, property and criminal law), or because it sets up the institutional arrangements for a branch of government (for example, courts legislation).

The Ministry’s stewardship obligations sit at the heart of our regulatory stewardship approach. These obligations include:

  • monitoring, reviewing and reporting on the condition and performance of our regulatory systems
  • undertaking robust analysis before making changes to regulatory systems
  • being an effective and efficient regulator.

In addition, our stewardship obligations sit alongside, and operate together with, the Ministry’s obligation to serve the government of the day and progress its regulatory priorities.

Stewardship of Treaty of Waitangi legislation

The Ministry also has a unique role in the stewardship of te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) legislation and broader recognition of the Treaty as a founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Ministry administers the Treaty of Waitangi (State-owned Enterprises) Act 1988, which governs the application of the Treaty to state-owned enterprises to protect rights and interests in land presently in Crown ownership.

The Ministry also hosts Te Arawhiti - The Office for Māori Crown Relations, a recently-established departmental agency dedicated to strengthening engagement and partnership with Māori. Te Arawhiti negotiates the settlement of historical Tiriti o Waitangi claims, and works alongside the rest of the Crown, settled iwi, and local government to safeguard the durability of historical Treaty settlements. Settlement commitments are contained in a growing volume of legislation, deeds of settlement and accompanying documents.

Te Arawhiti:

  • provides advice to the Crown on implications of settlement initiatives
  • helps to ensure government agencies and others meet their settlement commitments
  • maintains the collaborative relationships with iwi and hapū established through the settlement process.

Te Arawhiti also processes applications under the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011.

You can read more about Te Arawhiti and the Ministry’s work here:

Maori Land & Treaty

Te Arawhiti(external link)

Regulatory impact analysis – ensuring robust analysis of proposed regulatory changes

When a proposal is made to create, change or repeal legislation or regulations, the government agency responsible is usually required to provide Cabinet with a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

The RIA summarises the results of an agency’s regulatory impact analysis, and helps ensure that government agencies provide robust, evidence-informed analysis and advice to Ministers before decisions are taken on regulatory change.

RIAs are published when the relevant Bill is introduced to the House of Representatives or relevant regulation is published in the New Zealand Gazette (the official newspaper of the New Zealand government). Alternatively, they may be published earlier if a Minister chooses to do so (for example, when announcing new policy and proposed legislation). Making RIAs publicly available helps to ensure that government decision-making is transparent and accountable.

RIAs published by the Ministry can be found at:

Regulatory Impact Assessments

The Ministry as regulator

The Ministry has a regulatory oversight function for some of its regulatory systems. It also supports others to fulfil their regulatory roles.

We’re responsible for overseeing and monitoring regulators, such as the Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand Law Society, and the Real Estate Agents Authority, which are responsible for enforcement or other activities in their respective regulatory systems. We use good regulator practice as a framework to assess their performance. Good regulator practice includes:

  • providing accessible and timely information and support to help regulated parties understand their regulatory obligations
  • equipping regulatory workforces with the necessary knowledge and skills
  • maintaining a transparent and evidence-informed compliance and enforcement strategy.

This framework is applied in our monitoring mechanisms, such as letters of expectations and annual reporting requirements.

One of the Ministry’s core roles is to support the judiciary to administer the work of the courts and tribunals. We provide public resources, including judicial support and registry staff. While this isn’t a regulatory function per se, effective operation of the courts and tribunals is necessary to enforce criminal law, resolve civil disputes, uphold individuals’ rights and hold the government to account. This in turn supports the regulatory role played by others.