Regulatory stewardship

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has a responsibility to all New Zealanders to monitor the ongoing performance of our regulatory systems and ensure they remain fit for purpose.

What does regulatory stewardship mean for MPI?

Good quality regulatory systems, and the capability to keep them fit-for-purpose, are important to MPI. It's also important to the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

We aim to have regulatory systems that are well designed, well understood, and well operated.  We support our stewardship by carrying out regular system reviews to help identify:

  • what is working well
  • potential areas for future work
  • system gaps that need attention.

The systems we steward

We administer 52 acts of Parliament as well as the associated regulations, notices, standards, and orders. We organise these acts of Parliament into 6 regulatory systems – agriculture, animal welfare, biosecurity, fisheries, food safety, and forestry.

Descriptions of each system

We've prepared descriptions of each system that summarise its objectives, its major pieces of legislation, the major participants, and the key regulatory and operational changes planned for the next 12 months. We update these descriptions every year as part of our annual regulatory stewardship reporting.  

The effects of COVID-19 on the descriptions

We first prepared these forward plans, assessment summaries, and system descriptions prior to the Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, we have updated this material to reflect the short-term changes made to address the impact to MPI’s work programmes. Note that this material will not reflect the longer-term effects of COVID-19 (such as further work done to help with recovery). This will become clearer over time.

Not all legislation is in the descriptions

Some of MPI’s assigned acts are not listed in the system descriptions. This is because some have been repealed by other acts (for example, the Animal Identification Act 1993 was repealed by the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act 2012). Others have changed the status of specific industry bodies (for example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Restructuring) Act 1995).

How we monitor, evaluate and review our regulatory systems

The health of each system is reassessed every 4 years. The assessments help us determine how well our regulatory systems are working, what we are doing well, and the changes we can make to do better.

We map our systems against 4 measures: efficiency, effectiveness, durability and resilience, and fairness and accountability.

Our assessments are done by a small team not directly involved in the system. One of the ways we assess our systems is to interview people involved in all parts of the system at all levels. The feedback from system participants is then mapped against a set of assessment criteria based on the Best Practice Regulation Model developed by Treasury.

Once the assessment is completed, we release a summary of it. We have completed 3 assessments. Our remaining systems will be assessed over the next 2 years. The results are published on this web page.

Completed system assessments 2020

We assessed the agriculture and the animal welfare systems. Overall, both systems are performing satisfactorily.

Agriculture regulatory system assessment

  • It generally identifies risks well for the individual acts in the system.
  • Regulated parties mostly understand their obligations and the functioning of their parts of the system.

Download the agriculture system assessment [PDF, 229 KB]

Animal welfare regulatory system assessment 

Its key objectives are clear and largely being achieved. This has been helped with the:

  • introduction of new regulations
  • improved accountability of some regulated institutions
  • good working partnership between MPI and the SPCA on compliance.

Download the animal welfare system assessment [PDF, 266 KB]

Some improvements needed for both systems

The assessments also identified some improvements. For example, making it clearer what Treaty of Waitangi requirements need to be considered more when creating policies and practices. MPI has work already underway to broaden and deepen its understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi requirements of its systems.

Completed assessment 2019 – food safety

The assessment found the food safety system was in good health. However, our assessment identified some issues, such as the:

  • complexity of lower-level rules
  • level of understanding that some businesses have of their obligations
  • complexity of demands from multiple regulatory systems.

MPI is responding by working to ease compliance, deepen its understanding of small businesses, and provide further assistance to businesses that interact with other regulatory systems.

Download the food safety system assessment [PDF, 302 KB]

Who to contact

If you have questions or feedback about MPI's regulatory stewardship, email

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