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Party Policies: Election 2020

New Zealand needs a better future for people and planet. Forest & Bird has collected responses from political parties to help you vote for nature on 17 October. 

How will you ensure nature is protected and restored in a post-Covid economic recovery? Specifically what policies do you have that will ensure a climate positive future for people AND planet?

Question 1 Answers
Political Party Response

No response received.


As we reset the economy after COVID-19, investing in a just transition and in nature is crucial for Aotearoa’s long-term wellbeing. The Green Party is leading work on combatting climate change. With a Green Minister of Climate Change we have achieved more in the last three years than have been achieved by governments in the previous 30 years. That includes our ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration, establishing the independent Climate Change Commission, requiring default Kiwisaver providers to stop investing in fossil fuels, and a big action programme to increase recycling and resource recovery here in Aotearoa and minimise waste going to landfill. 

We know we need to go further and faster. The Greens’ Poverty Action Plan introduces a guaranteed minimum income to ensure all of us have enough to live with dignity and asks the wealthiest New Zealanders to pay it forward through a net wealth tax. The Clean Energy Plan would end the use of fossil fuels, and replace it with clean energy that flows from our sun, wind and rivers, including putting solar panels on all suitable state homes – creating thousands of clean energy jobs.


Before COVID-19, Labour had significantly increased conservation funding. As we recover, we’re investing a further $1.1 billion in nature to get thousands of people into jobs now, restore and protect our environment for generations to come, and accelerate our economic recovery.

Our Jobs for Nature fund is providing people with work controlling predators, planting trees, and improving infrastructure on public conservation land. Fast-track RMA consenting will help some environmentally beneficial projects, and their associated jobs, begin sooner.

We’ll be replacing the RMA with new legislation that will protect our environment better by controlling outcomes rather than effects. We’re also be preparing for the future by promoting clean energy. And, we’re moving New Zealand to a zero waste circular economy with much reduced waste, better recycling, and far less plastic pollution.

Labour has worked hard to tackle climate change and provide New Zealanders with clean energy. We’ve passed the Zero Carbon Act (ZCA) with a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and overhauled the ETS to make it an effective carbon price tool. We’ve stopped new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, started planting one billion trees, and invested in Ara Ake – Future Energy Development Centre.


National is firmly focused on economic recovery post-Covid-19 and the environment and conservation will play a role in that.

We will make changes to the Government’s climate legislation, to make it easier for growers and farmers to operate and there will be spending on infrastructure - cleaning up rivers will form part of that. Blanket policies are not the answer to cleaning up waterways - rules should be developed with local input and central government oversight.

New Zealand First

NZ First as part of the coalition government has funded “Jobs for Nature”.  This is in direct response to Covid with an investment of $1.3 billion with a focus on broad environmental funding. Of this, $500 million will see nature based jobs through DOC creating work for approximately 6000 people. Overall, the fund will provide up to 11,000 jobs and economic support for people and communities across Aotearoa, while ensuring environmental benefits. This funding is in place for a four year period.

NZ First is one of the founding executive members of Globe NZ in the last term of parliament that created history by not only have a cross-party agreement on a 1.5% target but also held a parliamentary debate specifically on Climate Change. As a coalition agreement with Labour on formation of this government we passed the Zero Carbon Act and created an Independent Climate Commission. NZ First policy of planting One Billion Trees, this programme aims to increase tree planting across New Zealand. The goal is to double the current planting rate to reach one billion trees planted by 2028. The focus is on making it easier to plant the right tree, in the right place, for the right purpose.

Specifically what policies do you have that will ensure a healthy natural world with better biodiversity outcomes for our 4,000 terrestrial, freshwater, and marine species currently at risk of extinction?

Question 2 Answers
Political Party Response

No response received.


Nature sustains us and is the basis of all life. Everyone should be able to enjoy healthy rivers, the dawn chorus, and oceans teeming with life. The Green Party in Government achieved a $1.3 billion investment in a new Jobs for Nature programme as part of the COVID 19 economic recovery package. Jobs include restoring wetlands, pest and weed control, and riparian planting.

The Greens delivered the biggest increase in funding for DOC in 16 years in Budget 2018; enabling the largest ever aerial control operation targeting rats, stoats and possums to help protect threatened species. We are doubling the size of marine mammal sanctuaries for Māui and Hector’s dolphin, have completed a new Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, changed the law to better protect native fish, and increased funding for Predator Free Aotearoa.

There is much work to do. We need to reform the law for marine protection, reduce bycatch of marine species, reform fisheries management, end set netting and phase out bottom impact fishing methods. We will invest in a national pest management strategy to protect kauri from kauri dieback, better develop and implement Treaty of Waitangi partnerships, and end new mining on conservation land (including stewardship land).


Labour will support initiatives to protect, preserve, and restore our natural heritage and biodiversity, and to reverse years of decline. This will provide a range of benefits to not only essential and valuable ecosystems, but for all New Zealanders. Our work will include continuing to implement the Predator Free 2050 Strategy and promoting mainland islands.

We’ve launched Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, providing a framework for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity in New Zealand, and setting specific goals for 2025, 2030, and 2050. We’ve also substantially boosted DOC funding.

We’re supporting councils to restore biodiversity, including through a National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which we expect to gazette in 2021.

Labour will commit to sustained funding for a kauri dieback National Pest Management Plan, to protect this taonga from extinction. This funding will provide a co-ordinated, long-term approach to the management of kauri dieback disease.


National has committed to establishing the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. The Government blocked this proposal to protect 15 per cent of our ocean area for six million sea birds, 35 species of fish and three of the world’s seven species of sea turtle.

National supports plans to implement cameras on all commercial fishing boats, something that would help protect 145 different species of seabirds using New Zealand waters, 90 per cent of them at risk of extinction. It was disappointing that the Government chose to scrap this important piece of work.

It was also disappointing that the Government failed to take an opportunity to build on the work done by National to further protect the subantarctic islands marine reserve, an ecological paradise that’s home to some of the planet’s rarest and most fascinating bird species and marine animals.

Resource use under National will be based on sustainability and good science used to inform decision making.

National is committed to improving biodiversity and delivering meaningful conservation outcomes.

New Zealand First

As a member of the coalition government in the 52nd parliament we have expanded marine protection areas for Māui dolphins. NZ First has participated in the development of a freshwater strategy and worked with the Minister of Conservation to protect our endangered indigenous freshwater fish with the passing of the Indigenous Fish Bill. NZ First will continue to work towards an equitable solution without removing treaty rights from Iwi in order to create the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary. We support riparian planting, creating wetlands and fencing off waterways to improve water quality. This will help the survival of species like the black mudfish which will thrive once wetlands in the north, for example, are restored. This will have the added benefit of creating hundreds of jobs on top of increased conservation values.

What will your party do about predicted water supply issues across the country? Do you intend to change water quality standards, and if so, in which sectors?

Question 3 Answers
Answers from Science Media Centre
Political Party Response

ACT believes the Government should pause new freshwater regulations for the rural sector as New Zealand works through the COVID-19 crisis. We don’t believe now is the time to be creating new uncertainty in our communities.


Water is a shared resource. As the climate changes we face stark choices about how it is used. With the Green Party’s support, the Government has introduced the strongest ever water reforms. For the first time, rules will prioritise ecosystem baselines and Māori cultural values. But there is more work to do around dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) limits, and to address allocation and conservation issues. On nitrogen, the Green Party will be led by the best available science which suggests a DIN of 1mg/litre.

The Green Party supports a fair resource rental charged on commercial water users, developed with Māori in a way that recognises the kaitiaki, proprietary, and customary rights of iwi and hapū. It’s essential that we protect food production – but that does not mean just more dairy intensification. The Green Party will support farmers to create more small-scale, on-farm water storage, and we will continue to oppose Crown funding for large irrigation projects. In cities, the Green Party will work with councils to improve “soft” infrastructure to reduce runoff, equip homes and communities with rainwater tanks, and require large new buildings to include greywater recycling. We will not support privatisation of drinking water, stormwater, or sewerage services.


Labour believes that healthy freshwater is critical to New Zealand’s wellbeing and our economy. Freshwater supply is increasingly under threat from extreme weather events, declining rainfall and rising temperatures. While in government, we’ve made significant investments in water storage infrastructure, and have boosted funding to upgrade water services.

We’ve started delivering on our commitment to clean up waterways, with new standards and rules and substantial restoration investment. And we have progressed a comprehensive review into drinking water, stormwater and wastewater, again backed by funding.

Implementation of all of these initiatives will be a Labour priority in the next term of government.


National knows that infrastructure investment is crucial to improving water quality, supporting more sustainable agriculture, and responding to climate change. Auckland needs considerable investment in properly separating stormwater and sewage to clean up streams and beaches. It is also in need of more water storage to ensure that Aucklanders have sufficient water to cater for their basic needs. The regions need investment in more schemes like the Waimea Dam in Nelson.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First, as part of the current Government, has already amended water quality standards in response to the terrible situation and the recommendations of the review into the Havelock North contamination of 2016. We have also been aware however that many small local councils will require support to be able to meet these standards and have supported the work done by Internal Affairs and the Minister of Local Government around creating a process for this support to be provided from central government – this work is ongoing. New Zealand First has also been a strong advocate of water storage – particularly small water storage projects that give greater security of supply to the some of our poorest and more remote communities. New Zealand First feels strongly that government has a moral obligation to these communities to remove the burden of having to pay for water to be shipped in to them when they are some of those with the least ability to pay. An example of our commitment to this issue is the $13 million PGF investment into water storage in Northland where families were having to bath their children in local streams during the recent drought.

How will your party meet the goals of the Paris Agreement? What role will the newly-established Climate Commission play in guiding New Zealand’s response

Question 4 Answers
Answers from Science Media Centre
Political Party Response

ACT believes in a no-nonsense climate change plan which ties our carbon price to that of our trading partners. ACT believes New Zealand must play its part on climate change. But any response must be simple to administer, politically durable, and effective. New Zealand will only prosper if we match our goals with actions which actually benefit the environment.

To address our emissions ACT believes we need smart solutions to implement other sources of energy. New Zealand now buries 3.5 million tonnes of waste in landfills every year and has a ban on waste to energy power generation. ACT would remove the legislative barriers waste to energy has in New Zealand opening up a sustainable alternative solution while also reducing our carbon emissions.


In Government in the last three years, the Green Party has made more progress tackling climate change than all Governments in the last 30 years combined. This has mostly been about setting up the frameworks for the transition to a low emissions economy over coming decades. These include fixing the Emissions Trading Scheme, establishing the Climate Change Commission, and passing the Zero Carbon Act – one of the first pieces of legislation in the world to oblige a country to live within the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C warming.

Now it’s time for action. The Green Party has announced a Clean Energy Plan which will see New Zealand end coal use by 2030 and industrial fossil gas use by 2035, and massively increase renewable electricity generation, including by installing solar panels on all suitable state homes. In the coming weeks, we will also announce transport and agriculture policies which will show what’s necessary to meet New Zealand’s 2030 emissions reduction targets. We look forward to being in a position in the next Government to receive the Climate Commission’s first recommended emissions budgets and emissions reduction plans, and we commit to acting on them.


Labour has worked hard to tackle climate change and provide New Zealanders with clean energy. We passed the landmark Zero Carbon Act, which provides a framework by which New Zealand can develop and implement policies that contribute to the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The Zero Carbon Act set a legally binding 2050 emissions target of net zero, other than for biogenic methane, which has to be reduced (in gross terms) 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050. The Act also established an independent Climate Change Commission, which will prepare 5 yearly emissions budgets as stepping stones towards the 2050 target. The Act also requires the Government to develop and implement emissions reduction and adaptation plans.

The Climate Change Commission will play a crucial role in New Zealand’s ongoing response to the climate crisis, by providing expert advice and monitoring to successive governments on track.

Labour has also taken other action to implement the Paris Agreement. For example, we’ve stopped new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, overhauled the Emissions Trading Scheme to make it an effective carbon price tool, and invested in Ara Ake – Future Energy Development Centre, in Taranaki.


National signed New Zealand up to the Paris Agreement in 2015 and supports greenhouse gas reduction in a manner that does not threaten food production. We continue to stand by that ambition.

The National Party believes the role of the Commission should be to provide analysis on how we reduce emissions and respond to climate change, all the while ensuring a strong economy and job protection.

National will ask the Climate Change Commission to review the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill and measures to limit the use of forestry to offset fossil fuels.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First has a preference for practical policies that work, as evidenced by our achievements on behalf of the environment.

However, New Zealand First does not view environmental policy through a singular prism that preferences it over the need for this country to thrive economically so as to afford a transition to a lower carbon future.

New Zealand First believes in providing balance to ensure that the agriculture sector is incentivised by, and assisted through, transitional policies that serve both our primary producers, their wider communities and the environment.

This balance was shown during the negotiations around the Zero Carbon Act and the ETS. New Zealand First’s contribution was a constructive one that has sought to balance the interests of the agricultural sector against the need for the government to take strong action and show leadership on climate change.

New Zealand First will ensure the current ZCA settings are kept the same; e.g., no Independent Climate Change Commission with Reserve Bank-like statutory independence.

What you can do today

To get Parties to act, you’ll need to tell them you’ll be voting for nature. Here’s how to use your voice.

Use our website to send a quick letter to party leaders telling them you’ll be voting for nature this year.

Write to party leaders

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