May 2005, amendments to Chapters 2 and 4, June 2007, technical amendment July 2019
General Policy is the highest level of statutory policy for conservation management.

Paparoa National Park Management Plan – court proceeding 

A Joint Statement by the Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Conservation Authority and the Royal Forest and Bird Society of New Zealand Inc regarding the proceeding is now available.

Download the joint statement (PDF, 121K)

Download the publication

Conservation General Policy (PDF, 601K)

This statement of General Policy covers the following Acts:

  • The Conservation Act 1987
  • The Wildlife Act 1953
  • The Marine Reserves Act 1971
  • The Reserves Act 1977
  • The Wild Animal Control Act 1977
  • The Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978.

The policies that are set out here, together with revised General Policy for National Parks, will guide conservation management for the next decade or more.

In particular they will shape a new round of conservation management strategies and plans and national park management plans. The scope of the policies is broad, reflecting the wide spectrum of conservation areas administered under the legislation and the many conservation tasks to be performed.

Note: the Conservation General Policy, together with the General Policy for National Parks 2005, replace the Draft Statements of General Policy. 


At a June 2007 meeting of the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) a minor change was made to the wording of the section on the General Policy for National Parks relating to the use of traditional materials and indigenous species.

The Chairperson of the NZCA, Kerry Marshall, said that "Following representations from and consultation with Ngai Tahu, and having also received advice from the Department of Conservation and considered the views of the Minister, the Authority has decided that it is appropriate to include all customary use of traditional materials and indigenous species under one policy."

Customary use is defined in the policy as “Gathering and use of natural resources by tangata whenua according to tikanga.”

The Minister of Conservation, Hon Chris Carter, decided to make a similar change to the Conservation General Policy, sections 2(g) and 4.1(e).

Technical amendment

The technical amendment addresses an error in the Conservation General Policy identified by the Supreme Court in Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki v Minister of Conservation [2018] NZSC 122. In its judgment the Court took issue with a sentence in the Conservation General Policy, which effectively states section 4 is trumped by other statutory provisions in the event of an inconsistency.

After receiving the Court’s guidance, the Minister and the NZCA approved technical amendments to remove this error from the Conservation General Policy and the General Policy for National Parks (see crossed out text below). The technical amendment removed the statement from both general policies, so the policies now read as follows:

The Conservation Act 1987, and all the Acts listed in its First Schedule, must be so interpreted and administered as to give effect to the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi (section 4, Conservation Act 1987). Where, however, there is clearly an inconsistency between the provisions of any of these Acts and the principles of the Treaty, the provisions of the relevant Act will apply.

The technical amendments were completed in August 2019. The removal of the statement did not change the objectives of the general policies and they continue to be applied in accordance with the law as reflected by the Supreme Court.

Publication information

ISBN 978-0-478-14307-2 (Hardcopy)
ISBN 978-0-478-14308-9 (Web PDF)
ISBN 978-0-478-14309-6 (Web HTML)


Policy Group
Department of Conservation

Whare Kaupapa Atawhai / Conservation House Head Office
Phone:   +64 4 471 0726
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   18 Manners Street
Wellington 6011
Postal Address:   PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143
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