In the “Statement of Intent 2007 – 2010

The Department was established under the Conservation Act 1987. The Act defines conservation as: “the preservation and protection of natural and historic resources for the purpose of maintaining their intrinsic values, providing for their appreciation and recreational enjoyment by the public, and safeguarding the options of future generations”.

The Department’s key functions are described under the Conservation Act (section 6) and are summarised as follows:

  • manage, for conservation purposes, all land and other natural and historic resources held under the Conservation Act
  • preserve, so far as practicable, all indigenous freshwater fisheries
  • protect recreational freshwater fisheries and freshwater fish habitats
  • advocate the conservation of natural and historic resources generally
  • promote the benefits to present and future generations of conservation of natural and historic resources
  • prepare, provide, distribute, promote and publicise conservation information
  • foster recreation and allow tourism, to the extent that the use of any natural and historic resource is not inconsistent with its conservation
  • advise the Minister on matters relating to any of the above functions or to conservation generally.

The Department interprets and administers the Conservation Act to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in accordance with section 4 of the Act.

The Department also has powers and functions under a number of other Acts (See Appendix 1)

The context for the Department’s work is also set by Government priorities, including the three key themes of:

  • Economic transformation
  • Families - young and old
  • National identity.

The Department contributes directly and indirectly to all three themes. The contributions that conservation makes to a sustainable environment, on which economic transformation and our social fabric depend, are significant and increasingly recognised. Protected natural areas provide fresh water, soil retention and flood protection. They are a major resource available for addressing climate change by reducing atmospheric carbon.

There is a deepening appreciation of the life-fulfilling contributions of conservation to the physical, mental, spiritual and cultural health and well-being of families. Conservation also secures, manages and provides access to the natural and historic heritage that is a core element of national identity and a base for New Zealand’s tourist industry.

The links between the Government’s priorities and the Department’s outcomes and outputs, as defined in this Statement of Intent, are further illustrated in Figure 1, page 16.

Within this framework of legislation and government priorities, the Department has set its Mission and its Strategic Direction.

The Department’s mission is:

  • To conserve New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future.
    He ata whakaute, manaaki, me te tiaki ia Papatuanuku ki Aotearoa kia u tonu ai tona whakawaiutanga hei oranga ngakau mo te tini te mano inaianei, ake tonu ake

The Strategic Direction (reproduced in full on page 13) defines the overarching purpose of the Department as:

  • “to increase the value of conservation to New Zealanders.”

Both the Mission and the Strategic Direction reinforce the Department’s contribution to the Government’s three priority themes, with the Strategic Direction, in particular, helping to move the Department from its traditional positioning as “nice to have” towards being an essential element of New Zealand’s sustainable economic future.

The public sector’s Managing for Outcomes framework provides the parameters within which the Department sets its outcomes. The Department has two inter-related high level outcomes:

  1. Protection: New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage is protected and restored.
  2. Appreciation: People enjoy and benefit from New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage and are connected with conservation.

These outcomes and the associated intermediate outcomes, outputs and business measures, were developed prior to the release of the Strategic Direction. During 2007/08 the Department will take a fresh look at its outcomes, outputs and measures in the light of the Strategic Direction and associated thinking. The 2008/11 Statement of Intent will become the document that describes the Department’s medium-term plans and approach for achieving the Strategic Direction.

Strategic Direction

New Zealanders want their natural and historic heritage conserved.

In order to foster this commitment to conservation, people must see there is value in it for itself, and for people’s enjoyment and benefit, now and for future generations.

The overarching purpose of the Department is to increase the value of conservation to New Zealanders.

To do this:

  • The Department will seek to entrench conservation as an essential part of the sustainable social and economic future of New Zealand.
  • The Department will be recognised as an effective manager of the lands, waters, species, historic places, and roles entrusted to it.
  • The Department will lead, guide, and facilitate conservation gains throughout New Zealand, wherever conservation is most needed.
  • The Department will weigh society's values, nature's inherent qualities, and scientific criteria in its decision-making.
  • The Department will actively promote outdoor recreation for New Zealanders, especially through fostering recreation, use, and enjoyment on conservation land.

How the Department’s Outcomes Were Developed

The national outcomes of Protection and Appreciation were developed from the requirements of the Conservation Act; in particular, the Act’s definition of conservation:

  • “The preservation and protection of natural and historic resources for the purpose of maintaining their intrinsic values, providing for their appreciation and recreational enjoyment by the public, and safeguarding the options of future generations.”

The Department has reviewed its approach against the Government’s priorities (see Figure 1) to ensure its work is aligned with the Government’s overall direction. Discussions with the Minister of Conservation were held to ensure the Minister’s priorities were covered.

The inter-relationship between the Protection and Appreciation outcomes can be described in this way: New Zealand’s heritage needs to be preserved and protected so people can enjoy and benefit from it. As New Zealanders appreciate and value their heritage so they will make a commitment to its conservation.

In making strategic trade-offs between possible outcomes, the Department recognises that achieving the outcomes completely is an ideal. In practical terms, the Department’s primary, though not exclusive, focus must continue to be on public conservation lands and waters. This priority also takes into account support for the work of others on private land, especially councils, landowners, iwi/hapu and community groups.

Within the Department’s natural heritage outcomes (see Figure 1), priority is given to the most endangered species and least represented sites to ensure the focus is on greatest areas of risk. The trade-off is that the Department is making a positive difference only at a few isolated places and for a few species. For remaining areas and species, the Department is either slowing the decline or the decline is continuing unhindered.

In outcomes relating to the recreation area, the Department’s focus is on providing and managing a range of quality recreational opportunities. This process recognises that neither the Department nor the public want all recreational opportunities provided in all locations. Instead, a range of opportunities meeting the needs of different people is being provided in the different settings offered by public conservation lands.

When determining how funds are allocated, the Department is directed by the Minister and the Government. Priority continues to be given to biodiversity, in support of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy, and to further developing the Department’s role in recreation.

Click to view Figure 1: the Department’s contribution to government priorities – linking outcomes to outputs.
Figure 1: the Department’s contribution
to government priorities – linking
outcomes to outputs

Public Sector Outcomes

As well as delivering on the Protection and Appreciation outcomes, the Department contributes to wider Government priorities through joint work with other government agencies. This includes implementation of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and the Department’s role in the national biosecurity system. The latter is led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Joint outcome work with other agencies is expected to increase as a response to the imperative to manage climate change.

A list of the government agencies the Department works with is on page 32.

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