Auckland conservation board and DOC staff on Kawau Island

Image: Piers Barney | ©


Learn how board members represent the public interest, and what the Minister of Conservation looks for in new board member applicants.


There are 15 conservation boards with up to 12 members each. Each board has a defined geographical area.

Members at Motu Kiwi Creche.
East Coast Hawke's Bay conservation board members at Motu Kiwi Creche

Conservation boards:

  • are independent
  • represent the public interest in DOC’s work, and conservation in general, within their region
  • focus on planning and strategic direction (rather than DOC’s day-to-day operations)
  • advise DOC and the New Zealand Conservation Authority
  • must exist and operate according to statute (written law), set out in Section 6M of the Conservation Act 1987 and in the National Parks and Reserves Acts.

Each board works to:

  • oversee the Conservation Management Strategy for its region (see below)
  • develop and review national park and other management plans for DOC-administered lands
  • advise on proposals for marine reserves
  • consider the impact of concessions for tourism and other activities on conservation land
  • assess the range of recreational opportunities in the region
  • advise on proposals to change the protective status or classification of areas of national or international importance.

Conservation Management Strategy

A Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) is a 10-year plan for managing and protecting the natural and historic features and wildlife of a region.

Each CMS is prepared by a conservation board and DOC in consultation with interested parties.

Once a CMS has been approved by the New Zealand Conservation Authority, the conservation board advises on its implementation.

Diversity and experience

The Minister of Conservation looks for diversity of experience and background, and a spread across the main geographical and ecological zones within a board’s area.

Members may have knowledge of nature conservation, natural earth and marine sciences, cultural heritage, recreation, tourism, the local community and Maori perspectives.

On any one board there may be students, teachers, farmers, fishers, scientists, builders, tourist operators, home makers and people who are retired.

Members are appointed as individuals for their experience, expertise and links with the local community.

Hāngi at Te Pukenga Atawhai.
Helping with a hāngi at Te Pukenga Atawhai
Image: © Bill Watt

Being a board member

An interest in conservation is the first requirement. Time and energy run a close second.

The first duty of a member is to work to achieve the statutory interests of the board. Members are not representatives for any cause or organisation – board meetings are public, and organisations can ask to be heard at them.


Before you agree to be nominated, make sure you’re aware of the role’s demands and responsibilities. Job satisfaction is greatest when all members participate fully and share the work.

It's a good idea to talk to former or present board members about the commitment required. Your nearest DOC office can put you in touch with a local member.


Members work together as a team to reach decisions by consensus. To form a view, they think laterally, listen, analyse issues, and participate in discussions.

Conservation boards and DOC benefit from the different perspectives members offer, based on their personal and professional understanding.

Meetings and trips

Most boards meet four–five times a year, occasionally more often. Meetings take a full day. Field trips or inspection visits can take two or three days, sometimes over a weekend.

Preparation and liaison

Members go to committee meetings, do research for reports and submissions, read briefing material before meetings, and liaise with the public.

Code of Practice

The Code of Practice provides a framework for conservation boards’ successful operation. It includes the roles of the boards, responsibilities of board members and key legislative functions.

Download the Code of Practice for Conservation Boards (PDF, 497K)

Duration of term

Three years is the usual appointment term for conservation board members. Each term begins 1 July.

Some members get appointed for a lesser term – often when replacing a resigning member.

Members may be nominated for a second term.

The Minister of Conservation appoints members to conservation boards in accordance with section 6P of the Conservation Act 1987.


Conservation board members are paid a daily fee of $250 for meetings and other approved activities, based on an eight-hour commitment. The daily fee applies to all work, including that performed outside of meetings that is required for the body to carry out its role.

The fee for a board chairperson is $330. 

Reasonable expenses for travel, accommodation and meals approved in advance by the board will be reimbursed. 

Conservation board review

In 2013, the Minister of Conservation appointed a ministerial advisory committee to review the role and function of conservation boards.

Read the committee’s final report

More information

Find your local conservation board to contact a board support officer.

Download our factsheets:

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