Background, context and scope of the Conservation Board Manual.

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1.1 Background and context

This Manual has been developed in consultation with Conservation Boards and the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) and is aimed at providing guidance for Conservation Boards in carrying out their duties and functions. 

Conservation Boards are independent statutory bodies, established under the Conservation Act 1987.  Boards have functions and powers under a range of conservation legislation, which are covered in this manual.

In addition, common principles of governance (including meeting procedures and decision-making processes) apply to all statutory and advisory bodies that work across the conservation sector.  This Manual sets out common principles, expectations and requirements of governance entities, drawing from suggested good practice across the local government and public sector.

DOC’s statutory role is to support Boards to give effect to their role and purpose as set out in the Conservation Act.  DOC contributes to high-performing Conservation Boards in a number of ways, including through establishing and maintaining this Manual and a Code of Conduct for members, responding to issues encountered by Boards in the course of their activities and through providing Boards with advice, guidance and clarification where appropriate.

1.2 Scope of the Manual 

This manual covers requirements specific to Conservation Boards.  This includes:

  • The role and responsibilities of Conservation Boards
  • The level of servicing provided by DOC to Conservation Boards
  • Boards’ connection and alignment with the work of DOC and the NZCA
  • How Boards meet the Minister’s and DOC’s expectations within DOC’s governance and accountability framework
  • How Boards give effect to principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in their work
  • Expectations of the Board and individual Board members in discharging their functions
  • Guidelines and guidance to carry out Board functions and activities, including meeting procedures.

The guidance provided in this manual is intentionally broad in nature.  Although serviced by DOC, Conservation Boards are independent entities. However, the expectation is that Boards will adopt the guidance and suggested best practice provided to achieve consistency of Board operations across the country.  Where a requirement is mandatory under legislation, this is stated by reference to the relevant provision.

Boards will continue to encounter novel issues and scenarios not covered in this manual.  In these instances, DOC servicing staff can be contacted for assistance.  Matters can be escalated to the Governance Unit by DOC servicing staff if required, and the outcome of any specific requests for advice on a governance matter on behalf of one Board may be incorporated into this Manual for the benefit of all.

1.3 What is a high-performing Board?

High-performing Boards adhere to practices, processes and policies that guide them to achieve their stated goals.  High-performing Boards rise above day to day operational matters, confidently set their direction, and plan their work to achieve their stated aims.

Conservation Boards operate within a statutory framework in a public sector context, which involves an increased level of public accountability in carrying out their powers and functions.  It requires them to work in an open, transparent and fair manner.  A Board needs to make sound recommendations around prioritising activity and the use of public resources that DOC administers, to achieve conservation aims in the Board’s rohe.

An effective Conservation Board will demonstrate good general governance principles, using the servicing and support offered by DOC and the NZCA:

What success looks like for a Conservation Board

How DOC and the NZCA help Conservation Boards achieve this


The Board has a clear purpose and understanding of its expectations


DOC drafts the Minister’s annual Letter of Expectation and other accountability documents, and provides workplan and reporting templates

Section 6

Section 7


The Board focuses on strategic issues, not operational matters


DOC’s operations staff keep Boards updated on operational matters being managed by DOC.  This allows the Board to focus its efforts on strategic level matters.

Section 3

Section 11

The Board carries out its functions in compliance with all governing legislation and general expectations of good Board practice

DOC provides resources to ensure Boards are aware of all their duties and responsibilities under Acts of Parliament.

Section 5

Section 8

Section 10

The Board identifies and manages risk


DOC and the NZCA provides information and support to Boards to identify risks in their rohe and manage these in an appropriate manner

Section 3

The Board measures itself against its accountabilities and communicates its performance

DOC articulates the Board’s accountabilities in an annual planning cycle and provides a range of reporting tools

Section 6

Section 13

The Board creates and maintains relationships with whānau, hapū and iwi within the Board’s rohe based on trust and respect, and with particular regard to giving effect to section 4 of the Conservation Act

DOC and the NZCA support Boards to strengthen their whānau, hapū and iwi relationships (including with the assistance of  Pou Tairangahau) and the Board appointment process. 

Section 3

Section 12

The Board creates and maintains relationships with stakeholder groups and its wider community

DOC and the NZCA support Boards to strengthen their stakeholder and community relationships through servicing Boards’ public meetings, field trips and advocacy activity.

Section 8

Section 11

The Board engages appropriately with the Minister (via DOC and the NZCA) on strategic direction and performance issues


DOC and the NZCA clarify communication and reporting lines and provides tools such as work plan and reporting templates to ensure a flow of information

Section 6


The Board works cooperatively with DOC and the NZCA and enables them to fulfil their monitoring and assessment functions

DOC provides tools for performance measurement and assessment

Section 6

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