Department of Conservation (New Zealand)

The Department of Conservation (DOC) (Māori: Te Papa Atawhai) is the public service department of New Zealand charged with the conservation of New Zealand's natural and historical heritage.

An advisory body, the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) is provided to advise DOC and its ministers.[2] In addition there are 13 conservation boards for different areas around the country that provide for interaction between DOC and the public.[3]

Department of Conservation
Te Papa Atawhai
Department of Conservation New Zealand logo
Agency overview
JurisdictionNew Zealand
HeadquartersConservation House
18-32 Manners Street
Wellington 6011
Annual budgetVote Conservation
Total budget for 2019/20
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Lou Sanson,



Fjordland National Park sign
DOC signs of this format are commonly seen around New Zealand conservation areas.
DOC Hut On The Rakiura Track Stewart Island
DOC operates much of the backcountry tourist infrastructure of the country, such as this overnight hut on the Rakiura Track.

The department was formed on 1 April 1987, as one of several reforms of the public service, when the Conservation Act 1987[4] was passed to integrate some functions of the Department of Lands and Survey, the Forest Service and the Wildlife Service.[5] This act also set out the majority of the department's responsibilities and roles.

As a consequence of Conservation Act all Crown land in New Zealand designated for conservation and protection became managed by the Department of Conservation.[5] This is about 30% of New Zealand's land area or about 8 million hectares of native forests, tussocklands, alpine areas, wetlands, dunelands, estuaries, lakes and islands, national forests, maritime parks, marine reserves, nearly 4000 reserves, river margins, some coastline, and many offshore islands. All of the land under its control is protected for either conservation, ecological, scenic, scientific, historic or cultural reasons, and for recreation.[6]

Providing for recreation is a major part of its core work, and this covers the management of family picnic sites, as well as maintaining rugged backcountry tracks and over 1000 accompanying backcountry huts that are used by hunters and recreational trampers. DOC also administers the Nature Heritage Fund, and is responsible for rural fire control.

In addition to its work managing land and providing for recreation in New Zealand, DOC works to preserve its natural heritage. This includes preservation of historic sites on public conservation land, saving native threatened species, managing threats like pests and weeds, environmental restoration, caring for marine life, and assisting landowners to effectively preserve natural heritage.

The methods of achieving these goals have resulted in controversy, where some people claim that the Department of Conservation is overly biased towards environmentalists at the expense of New Zealand's economy. This is particularly a concern amongst some farmers and other industries that are major users of neighbouring land, many of whom have been affected by decisions of the department. However, these criticised DOC efforts have also been lauded for achieving some success, for both conservationists and farmers, having led to a significant drop in possum populations during the last decades.

The DOC was floated as the agency to supervise the construction of the proposed New Zealand Cycleway,[7] though this is now being managed primarily by the Ministry of Tourism, in coordination with the DOC where appropriate.

After a number of years of falling budgets, in 2013 the department announced it would be slashing 140 jobs and narrowing its 11-region structure into six.[8]


The Department of Conservation moved into a new headquarters, Conservation House, on Manners Street, Wellington in 2006. It is the first green building in New Zealand to be given a 5-star rating, having won numerous environmental awards, including a top 10 placing by Grist Magazine.[9] The site was originally a cinema complex operated by the Hoyts Group from the mid-1980s until the early 2000s, when it closed down in the face of stiff competition.[10]

Conservation land

New Zealand has 13 national parks, and a wide number of other conservation lands with varying levels of environmental protection, called the "conservation estate" in total.[11] About one third of this estate, generally the land considered most valuable, has been protected from mining since 1997 via being listed in Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act 1991 (though recent (2010) moves by the Fifth National Government have proposed exemption some areas from Schedule 4).[11]

While much of the conservation land not protected as national parks or Schedule 4 land is much more damaged or human-modified than the core conservation areas, these areas serve as boundary and species buffer zones.[11]


Cave Creek disaster

In 1995, 14 people died when a viewing platform maintained by the Department of Conservation collapsed. Immediately following the tragedy, all of the department's 106 viewing platforms throughout New Zealand were checked. Fifteen platforms were closed for repairs.[12]

A Commission of Inquiry that followed the tragedy revealed that the department had acted illegally and negligently in constructing the viewing platform. The commission also stated that the department was seriously underfunded for the tasks with which it was delegated, resulting in a culture of sub-standard safety procedures having been used for the building and maintenance of some of its facilities.[13]

Many people in New Zealand criticised the government for the department's situation, and Denis Marshall, the presiding Minister of Conservation at the time, eventually resigned over the incident. Since the inquiry, radical changes have been made to the department's procedures to prioritise safety, including the implementation of a comprehensive asset management system to catalogue, track and trigger regular inspections of all significant structures and facilities managed by the department.

Raoul Island eruption

In March 2006, a volcanic eruption at the Green Lake of Raoul Island, administered by the Department of Conservation, was believed to have killed DOC worker Mark Kearney. At the exact time of the eruption, Mr Kearney is thought to have been taking temperature measurements of the lake as part of a programme for monitoring volcanic activity. Five other DOC workers, who were also living on the island, were forced to evacuate back to New Zealand shortly after the eruption. Searches for Mr Kearney, which have been inhibited by the island's remote location and the risks of further volcanic activity, have since failed to find any signs of him.

See also


  1. ^ "Total Appropriations for Each Vote". Budget 2019. The Treasury.
  2. ^ "New Zealand Conservation Authority - NZCA". Department of Conservation.
  3. ^ "Conservation Boards". Department of Conservation.
  4. ^ "Conservation Act 1987". Parliamentary Counsel Office.
  5. ^ a b Nathan, Simon (2 March 2009). "Conservation – a history - Changing organisations and ideas, 1985–2006". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  6. ^ Popay, Ian (1 March 2009). "Weeds of agriculture - Weeds in water and in ecosystems". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  7. ^ Field, Michael (2 March 2009). "Best job ideas in Budget round - English". Stuff. Fairfax. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  8. ^ "DOC to cut 140 jobs". 3 News NZ. 26 March 2013.
  9. ^ "No 9 In the World". The Wellington Company. 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
  10. ^ "Conservation House". The Wellington Company. 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2008.
  11. ^ a b c Cumming, Geoff (6 March 2010). "Miners press to enter the green zone". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
  12. ^ New Zealand disasters - Cave Creek Christchurch City Council Library website, viewed 5/9/2007
  13. ^ Commission of inquiry Cave Creek report Archived 18 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Review the Commission of Inquiry into the collapse of a viewing platform at Cave Creek near Punakaiki on the West Coast. Judge Noble's report, Published: 1995. DOC website, accessed 17 December 2012.

External links

Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), is the peak body responsible for representing fire, emergency services and land management agencies in the Australasian region. It was formed in 1993 and has 34 full members and 13 affiliate members.

Department of Conservation (disambiguation)

Department of Conservation may refer to:

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Hong Kong

Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia)

Department of Conservation (New Zealand)

In the United States:

California Department of Conservation

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Missouri Department of Conservation

Dog Squad

"Dog Patrol" is a reality TV show following working dogs and handlers as they go about their daily duties.

It is set in New Zealand and focuses on dog-handler pairs working for the Department of Corrections (New Zealand), New Zealand Customs Service, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (New Zealand), Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand, Department of Conservation (New Zealand), and Search and rescue."Dog Squad" currently airs 8:00-8:30pm Mondays on TV One (New Zealand). It was created by the same people who created Border Patrol (TV series). The first episode of "Dog Squad" aired 25 July 2011. the show also screens in Australia on Channel 7, under the title Dog Patrol.

The series focuses on the actions of (at least) four dog-handler pairs. These include:

Ted (dog) and Maurice (handler)

Flash (dog) and Carol (handler)

Ben (dog) and Steve (handler)

and Rowdy (dog) and his handler. Ted and Maurice

Ted is a 5-year-old German short haired pointer. He works with Maurice at Waikeria Prison, one of New Zealand's largest prisons.Flash and Carol and Ben and Steve

Flash and Ben are drug dogs working for the Department of Corrections. They are 2 of only 12 dogs employed by the Department.Rowdy

Rowdy works for Customs, also as a drug dog. He has moved to New Zealand from Australia. His handler is not named in the official TVNZ Dog Squad webpage.

Flowerpot Bay

Flowerpot Bay, also spelt Flower Pot Bay, is a small bay, some 250 m across, on the north coast of Pitt Island in the Chatham Islands group of New Zealand. With a jetty at its western end, it is the main point of access by sea to the island.

The vicinity of the bay also holds the island’s primary school, its church and its only tourist accommodation – the Flowerpot Bay Lodge. The site has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because it supports a breeding colony of endangered Pitt shags, with 75 nests recorded in 1998.


Herbfields are plant communities dominated by herbaceous plants, especially forbs and grasses. They are found where climatic conditions do not allow large woody plants to grow, such as in subantarctic and alpine tundra environments. Herbfield is defined in New South Wales (Australia) government legislation as native vegetation that predominantly does not contain an over-storey or a mid-storey and where ground cover is dominated by non-grass species. The New Zealand Department of Conservation has described herbfield vegetation as that in which the cover of herbs in the canopy is 20–100%, and in which herb cover is greater than that of any other growth form, or of bare ground.Various kinds of herbfield include:

Tall alpine herbfield

Short alpine herbfield

Tussock herbfield

Wet herbfield

Aquatic herbfield

List of conservation organisations

This is a list of conservation organisations, which are organisations that primarily deal with the conservation of various ecosystems.

List of non-marine molluscs of New Zealand

This is a list of the non-marine molluscs of the country of New Zealand. They include gastropods, such as land snails, and freshwater molluscs (or shellfish), such as freshwater mussels. Among the best known are the large native forest snails such as the Paryphanta (kauri snails) and Powelliphanta.

Matarakau Point

Matarakau Point is a headland on the north coast, and 13 km from the easternmost point, of the main Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands group of New Zealand. It has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because it supports breeding colonies of the critically endangered Chatham and endangered Pitt shags.

Meterana pictula

Meterana pictula is a moth of the Noctuidae family. It is endemic to New Zealand. This species has been classified as "At Risk, Declining" by the Department of Conservation.

New Zealand Threat Classification System

The New Zealand Threat Classification System is used by the Department of Conservation to assess conservation priorities of species in New Zealand.The system was developed because the IUCN Red List, a similar conservation status system, had some shortcomings for the unique requirements of conservation ranking in New Zealand. As of 2011 plants, animals, and fungi are evaluated, though the lattermost has yet to be published. Algae were assessed in 2005 but not reassessed since. Other protists have not been evaluated.

Ngāti Tūrangitukua

Ngāti Tūrangitukua is a Māori iwi (tribe) in Turangi, New Zealand. It is a hapu (sub-tribe) of the Ngati Tuwharetoa iwi.In 1998, the iwi received an apology and $5,000,000 from the New Zealand Crown as settlement for claims relating to the Treaty of Waitangi.

Okawa Point

Okawa Point lies at the north-eastern end of Hanson Bay near the easternmost point of the main Chatham Island in the Chatham Islands group of New Zealand. It has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because it supports breeding colonies of the critically endangered Chatham and endangered Pitt shags.

Pirongia Forest Park

Pirongia Forest Park is a protected area 30 km southwest of Hamilton, New Zealand. It covers 167.7 square kilometres (64.7 sq mi) across four blocks of land - Pirongia (the largest), Te Maunga O Karioi Block, and the small Mangakino Block and Te Rauamoa Block. The park encompasses Mount Pirongia west of Pirongia and Mount Karioi near the coast southwest of Raglan. Waireinga/Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Reserve is also in the area, but is separate to Pirongia Forest Park.


A reef is a bar of rock, sand, coral or similar material, lying beneath the surface of water.

Many reefs result from natural, abiotic processes—deposition of sand, wave erosion planing down rock outcrops, etc.—but the best known reefs are the coral reefs of tropical waters developed through biotic processes dominated by corals and coralline algae.

Artificial reefs (e.g. shipwrecks) sometimes have a role in enhancing the physical complexity of featureless sand bottoms, in order to attract a diverse assemblage of organisms, especially algae and fish.

Earth's largest reef system is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, at a length of over 2,300 kilometres (1,400 miles).


Seddonville is a lightly populated locality on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. It is most famous for the historical role it played in New Zealand's coal mining industry.

Springs Junction

Springs Junction is a significant road junction in New Zealand that connects two major highways, State Highway 7

and State Highway 65 (the Shenandoah Highway).State Highway 7 runs between Canterbury and the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island.

State Highway 65 heads north from the junction along the Maruia River and forms part of the main route between Christchurch and Nelson.

Springs Junction is also the name of the small settlement close to the junction. It includes a petrol station, a café and some houses.

Tautuku Peninsula

Tautuku Peninsula is a rocky headland in the Catlins on the south coast of Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. It is located 25 km (15 mi) east of Waikawa, at the western end of Tautuku Bay.

From 1839 to 1846, a whaling station was sited near the peninsula's neck, and a port was later developed for the fishing, flax and timber industries. When these industries declined, the port was closed. Today, southern right whales are making slow come back and still can be seen around the peninsula occasionally. New Zealand sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) also can be seen on beaches. Sporadic mammal visitors include leopard seals.The estuary of the Tautuku River, just north of the peninsula, is inhabited by fernbirds. A short walk leads from Outdoor Education Centre next to the Southern Scenic Route through this jointed rush wetland, partly as a boardwalk.There are numerous cribs (holiday cottages) on the peninsula, but these are mainly reached by four-wheel drive or tractor, as no roads reach the peninsula. The only access is via the mouth of the Fleming River, or along Tautuku Beach. A signposted lookout on the side of the Southern Scenic Route road on Florence Hill offers a scenic view south over Tautuku Bay and the Tautuku Peninsula.


A wallaby is a small- or mid-sized macropod native to Australia and New Guinea, with introduced populations in New Zealand, UK and other countries. They belong to the same taxonomic family as kangaroos and sometimes the same genus, but kangaroos are specifically categorised into the six largest species of the family. The term wallaby is an informal designation generally used for any macropod that is smaller than a kangaroo or wallaroo that has not been designated otherwise.There are 11 species of brush wallabies (g. Macropus, s.g. Protemnodon). Their head and body length is 45 to 105 cm and the tail is 33 to 75 cm long. The six named species of rock-wallabies (g. Petrogale) live among rocks, usually near water; two species are endangered. The two species of hare-wallabies (g. Lagorchestes) are small animals that have the movements and some of the habits of hares. Often called "pademelons", the three species of scrub wallabies (g. Thylogale) of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and Tasmania are small and stocky, with short hind limbs and pointed noses.

Wallabies are hunted for meat and fur. A similar species is the short-tailed scrub wallaby, or quokka (Setonix brachyurus); this species is now restricted to two offshore islands of Western Australia. The three named species of forest wallabies (g. Dorcopsulus) are native to the island of New Guinea. The dwarf wallaby is the smallest member of the genus and the smallest known member of the kangaroo family. Its length is about 46 cm from nose to tail, and it weighs about 1.6 kg.

Wilderness area

A wilderness area is a region where the land is in a natural state; where impacts from human activities are minimal—that is, as a wilderness. It might also be called a wild or natural area. Especially in wealthier, industrialized nations, it has a specific legal meaning as well: as land where development is prohibited by law. Many nations have designated Wilderness Areas, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

The WILD Foundation states that wilderness areas have two dimensions: they must be biologically intact and legally protected. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) classifies wilderness at two levels, Ia (Strict Nature Preserves) and Ib (Wilderness areas).

Most scientists and conservationists agree that no place on earth is completely untouched by humanity, either due to past occupation by indigenous people, or through global processes such as climate change. Activities on the margins of specific wilderness areas, such as fire suppression and the interruption of animal migration, also affect the interior of wildernesses.

New Zealand public service departments

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