The key relationships that Conservation Boards have with others.

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3.1 Conservation Boards’ relationship with the Minister of Conservation

The Minister makes all appointments to Conservation Boards. See section 12 of this Manual for more information on the Board appointment process.

All Conservation Boards are accountable to the Minister for their performance. The Minister supplies an annual Letter of Expectation (LOE) to every Board.  This formal document contains specific expectations for work to be done by a Board, outcomes to be achieved in each rohe, and expectations around the Board’s strategic direction and priorities.  This informs each Board’s objectives in its annual work programme. See section 6.2.2 of this Manual for more information on the LOE.

The Act requires Boards to supply an Annual Report to the NZCA (s6O). These reports are collated and forwarded to the Minister, along with an NZCA report summarising Boards' performance. See section 6.4 of this Manual for more information on the Annual Report.

Boards are also expected to keep the Minister informed about their activities, for example, supporting an award ceremony, the opening of a new attraction, or other important successes being celebrated in the Board’s rohe.  Boards are encouraged to provide an interim report on their activities as a way of keeping the Minister informed of their mahi. See section 6.5 of this Manual for more information on interim reporting.

3.2 Conservation Boards’ relationship with DOC

Conservation Boards are independent of DOC but advise DOC (and/or the NZCA) on conservation matters relating to areas within their own jurisdiction (rohe) (s 6M(1)(d) (ii)).  DOC has a responsibility to service Boards (s 6V) and support the Minister to monitor Board performance.  The Director-General of DOC (or their nominee) is entitled to attend Conservation Board meetings but is not able to vote at the meeting (s 6U).

3.2.1 Funding of Conservation Boards 

All of DOC’s work is divided into ‘output classes’. Under the Public Finance Act 1989, a separate appropriation of public funds is necessary for each output class.  Funding for DOC is referred to as ‘Vote: Conservation’.  To receive funding, DOC estimates the proposed costs or expenses that will be incurred in relation to each output class each year, including an amount for the administration of the NZCA and Conservation Boards.

DOC’s appropriation to service Conservation Boards includes an allocation for staff that service the Boards. Any other expenditure must directly relate to the powers and functions of Conservation Boards.

3.2.2 Servicing of Conservation Boards 

DOC has an obligation under s 6V of the Act to service Conservation Boards.  DOC also facilitates induction training for newly appointed Board members.

A number of DOC staff contribute to servicing Conservations Boards (collectively referred to as support or servicing staff):

  • Board Support Officers (BSOs) are the first point of contact for Board members.  They are predominantly focused on administrative services.  The servicing they provide to Conservation Boards (0.5FTE) is for the functioning of meetings and are not generally available for other work or projects that Conservation Boards may choose to become involved with.
  • Statutory Managers carry out a range of functions at place, including raising public awareness of conservation, processing concession applications, and statutory land administration and planning work.  In addition, they may also support the work of other statutory or advisory bodies. 
  • The Operations Director in each area has responsibility (under delegation from the Director-General) for a Board’s ongoing operations and attends all the Board’s meetings. 

DOC servicing staff carry out the following essential administrative functions to service Conservation Boards, including:

  • preparing agendas and meeting papers
  • taking minutes
  • organising meetings, workshops and field trips
  • assisting with correspondence
  • organising payment of members' fees and expense claims
  • financial reporting
  • compiling the Board’s Annual Report in association with the Board.

DOC support staff work closely with a Board’s Chair and maintain regular contact with all Board members between meetings.  Support staff can liaise with other DOC staff on behalf of a Conservation Board, if the Board requires information or assistance which is out of scope of the support staff's role.

3.2.3 Pou Tairangahau

Pou Tairangahau are DOC staff members who lead strategic relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi in their allocated area of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The role of the Pou Tairangahau underpins DOC’s ability to build and support relationships with tangata whenua to achieve conservation outcomes. Pou Tairangahau enable DOC and whānau, hapū and iwi to work closely together and explore opportunities for conservation in an area, which in turn creates benefits for Conservation Boards in that rohe.

3.2.4 Induction of new Board members

Board members are appointed from many different backgrounds and bring a wide range of skills and expertise to their role.

DOC provides an induction for all new Board members to assist them to understand the Board’s statutory requirements and functional/operating models. New members will be supported in key principles such as working in accordance with s4 of the Conservation Act (giving effect to principles of the Treaty of Waitangi). New members are provided with resources such as this Manual, the Code of Conduct for Conservation Board Members, recent Board papers and other relevant background materials.

3.3 Conservation Boards’ relationship with NZCA

Both Conservation Boards and the NZCA are independent statutory bodies established by the Conservation Act, but each has a different set of responsibilities and functions under the Act.  The NZCA is a single entity which operates at a national level.  In addition to its responsibilities around statutory management planning, the NZCA provides advice to the Minister on Conservation Board appointments (s 6P(2)) and receives Conservation Boards’ Annual Reports (s 6O).

Conservation Boards provide a range of advice to DOC and/or the NZCA on conservation related matters within their rohe, under s6M(d)(ii)of the  Conservation Act 1987 and s30(f) National Parks Act 1980.  The NZCA relies on information and advice provided by Conservation Boards to give local perspectives on conservation matters occurring across the country, provide advice to the Minister and DOC, and identify and investigate conservation issues of national importance. 

Conservation Boards in turn rely on the NZCA to escalate local issues where needed and provide relevant advice to DOC and the Minister.  A Conservation Board will bring the NZCA’s attention to conservation matters that the Board believes may need consideration at a national level. 

The Act provides for the NZCA to have a direct relationship with DOC and the Minister on certain matters, whereas Conservation Boards generally communicate directly with the NZCA and DOC.  Conservation Boards’ contact with the Minister is usually initiated by the Minister.

This relationship between Conservation Boards and the NZCA is provided for through several methods, including through liaison activity, the annual Conservation Board Chairpersons Conference (hosted by the NZCA), and regular reporting between the Boards and the NZCA, such as NZCA agenda, minutes and the NZCA Chair’s letter.

3.3.1 NZCA Liaison

Information sharing between Boards and the NZCA is facilitated through the NZCA liaison assigned to each Board.  This person provides a link between the two entities, enabling communication outside of the Board’s annual reporting obligation and other statutory management functions.  The NZCA liaison:

  • Attends several of the Conservation Board’s meetings or field trips each year (once a year for the Chatham Islands), factoring in available time, resources and matters under consideration
  • Updates the Conservation Board with information about matters the NZCA is working on
  • Receives the Conservation Board’s meeting agenda and minutes, Annual Report and copies of any correspondence sent from the Board to the NZCA.

The NZCA liaison will bring Board matters to the NZCA’s attention as necessary.  The liaison will have regular contact with the Board Chair, particularly in the leadup to a NZCA meeting, to discuss any Board matters that may need to be raised at the NZCA meeting.  The NZCA liaison will then provide a written report to the NZCA meeting if there are substantive matters to bring to the NZCA’s attention. The NZCA will consider any request or recommendation made to it from a Board.

3.3.2 NZCA Conservation Board Chairpersons’ Conference

The NZCA organises and funds the annual Conservation Board Chairpersons’ Conference. The conference brings all Board Chairs from across Aotearoa New Zealand together to receive updates, collaborate over common issues and share good practice, in the presence of the NZCA and DOC (and usually the Minister). It provides a valuable opportunity for professional development and collegiality.

Other Conservation Board members are welcome to attend the conference, but the NZCA only funds attendance of a Board’s Chair.

3.3.3 Reporting from the NZCA to Conservation Boards

The NZCA supplies Boards with their agenda prior to their meeting as well as confirmed minutes of the previous meeting. These are also posted on the NZCA’s webpage for the public to view.

After each NZCA meeting, the NZCA Chair writes to Board Chairs to provide an overview of significant topics discussed at the meeting. The NZCA may choose to share some material with Boards.

3.4 Relationships between Conservation Boards

3.4.1 Conservation Board liaison

Each Conservation Board is expected to liaise with its neighbouring Conservation Board/s. This facilitates cross-boundary communication and information sharing between Boards.  This is especially important in cases where a conservation area and/or statutory management planning document straddles the jurisdictional boundary between two Boards.

For example, Mount Aspiring National Park is managed partly by DOC in the Otago region and partly by DOC in the West Coast Tai Poutini region, but it all falls within the area of jurisdiction of the Otago Conservation Board.

Every Conservation Board should have a Board liaison policy. A Board member should be appointed to liaise with each neighbouring Conservation Board.  The liaison will:

  • Receive notice of the neighbouring Board’s meetings
  • Liaise with the neighbouring Board Chair to discuss whether there would be benefit in the appointed member attending any upcoming meeting
  • Attend one or more of the neighbouring Board’s meetings (either in person or virtually), in accordance with the Board liaison policy
  • Provide an update in writing to the member’s own Board about any relevant or substantive matters the neighbouring Board is considering
  • Receive the neighbouring Board’s agenda, minutes and Annual Report.

Appendix - Conservation Board liaison policy (DOCX, 27K)

3.4.2   Communication between Conservation Board Chairs

Board Chairs are encouraged to use the Board Chairs channel provided on MS Teams to communicate directly with each other, share resources, seek advice, and promote communication between Boards. 

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