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New Zealand's Environmental Reporting Series: 2015 topics and provisional statistics
About the topics and provisional statistics

About the topics and provisional statistics

Developing the topics

Developing the statistics

Here is information on the topics and provisional statistics for New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series in 2015.

New Zealand is improving the way it reports on its environment.

Good information on our environment is important to New Zealand’s long-term success. It allows us to fully understand natural occurrences, the impact human activities are having, and where we need to make improvements.

The Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand will publish Environment Aotearoa 2015 and Environmental indicators Te taiao Aotearoa in mid-2015. The report and indicator web pages will be the first synthesis reports covering all domains (air, atmosphere and climate, fresh water, land, and marine) using the new environmental reporting framework set out in the Environmental Reporting Bill.

Environment Aotearoa 2015 and Environmental indicators Te taiao Aoteaora are being produced in ‘the spirit of the Bill’ as the Bill and associated regulations will not be in force in time for the release of the reports. This allows us to test the process and refine the way we do environmental reports.


See topics list, or download  a printable version from the managed attachments. We recommend you print in A3 format.  

These topics and provisional statistics are solely for use in 2015. The topics for future environmental reports will be set in regulation once the Bill is enacted, and will be the subject of public consultation which we will advertise. The statistics are provisional. We may remove some of them if the data is either not up to standard or is not available, or add others which we are currently reviewing. These topics and the final statistics will be the basis of future topics for consultation and reporting. They will also help us identify data gaps, which we are reviewing as part of our continuous data improvement work.

To protect the integrity of the reports, will we will release them to everyone at the same time. This is in line with Statistics NZ’s usual release protocols for official statistics.

Defining topics and statistics

Topic (the 'what')   Statistics to measure topics (the ‘how’)
 A qualitative title that describes an area or issue of interest  A quantitative measure of an attribute or aspect of a topic.
 Topics bridge the gap between a domain (ie, freshwater, air, marine, etc.) and a statistic. Topics define the scope of reporting within each domain, and the environment overall.  

These typically include terms such as concentration, abundance, and numbers of.

 For example: Impacts on biodiversity.  For example: Changes in the conservation status of native and endemic animal and plant species.

Developing the topics

Here is an explanation of how we developed the topics for 2015.

The topics set the scope of reporting and help guide the Government Statistician when setting statistics. Topics ensure that reporting remains consistent over the medium to long term, and signal the direction of reporting to councils, other stakeholders, and the public.

Some of the topics do not currently have any national-level reporting information. This may be because they relate to emerging issues that have not been monitored or reported widely in New Zealand to date. We included them because they are very important to New Zealanders or to our environment.

How we developed the topics

Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) provided advice on what topics and statistics to use. We set up a TAG for each domain, and an overarching policy advisory group - the Directors Advisory Group (DAG). The TAGs provided technical expertise in developing the topics and statistics. TAG members represent four perspectives for their domain: central government, councils, Crown research institutes, and universities.

The Ministry for the Environment refined the topics to ensure these were consistent in the level of detail across domains. We also assessed whether the proposed topics met the purpose outlined in the Bill – that is: 

  • the ‘pressure’ topic or ‘impact’ topic must affect significant areas, resources, or numbers of people
  • the topic can be measured with robust statistical methods
  • the ‘pressure’ topic is related to the ‘state’ topic
  • the ‘state’ topic is related to the ‘impact’ topic.

The Minister for the Environment and Minister of Statistics approved the final list of topics in September 2014.

Developing the statistics

This section describes how we chose the statistics for 2015, and how we’re improving data collection. 

We need high-quality and credible environmental data to manage our natural resources responsibly and sustainably. Some topics have information gaps, so we need to improve data for future reports. We selected statistics from existing data that is accurate and representative enough to be used for national reporting – this is still being assessed, which is why the statistics are still provisional. Where the available information is limited or regional (rather than national), but still very relevant, we use case studies. We excluded data with low degrees of accuracy.

How we chose the statistics

We consulted with the technical advisory groups to develop statistics for each of the five domains. The methods and data were assessed against the Principles and Protocols for Producers of Tier 1 Statistics. These evaluate accuracy, relevance, coherence/consistency, timeliness, accessibility, and interpretability. This is a requirement under the Bill. We also assessed for relevance to the topics. The Government Statistician will approve the final list of statistics to use in the report closer to the release of the reports. 

The Bill requires us to report the best available data rather than generate new information. The Ministry and Statistics NZ do not directly undertake environmental monitoring, but rely on other agencies and organisations to collect the data. Environmental monitoring is mostly carried out by councils and research organisations. We work with them to collate the data to build a nationally representative picture of the environment. Much of the data used for the report is already publicly available. Some updated data is also included. 

We are working with councils and other data providers on making steady improvements over time in the data we report on.

  • Environmental Monitoring and Reporting is a partnership between local government and the Ministry for the Environment that is developing integrated regional/national environmental data collection networks.
  • The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website is a platform for sharing regional and national environmental data. Currently, it focuses on freshwater and coastal water quality information.
  • The National Environmental Monitoring Standards (NEMS) programme is developing standards for collecting and exchanging environmental monitoring data. Standards will improve the quality, consistency, and usability of data. The Ministry for the Environment is funding NEMS, while regional council experts are providing in-kind support. Crown research institutes, the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment, and industry groups are also contributing,
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