Read the NZCA's policy and procedure for managing conflicts of interests.

Adopted: June 2012
Last reviewed and amended: June 2021


1. The New Zealand Conservation Authority (Authority) is a statutory entity operating in the public policy and planning sphere with functions under a number of Acts. Its meetings are generally open to the public and its papers and deliberations are available for public scrutiny through the Official Information Act. Its decisions are reviewable by the Ombudsman and the High Court and a decision could be overturned on the basis the decision-maker was biased in favour of one outcome.

2. The majority of members are appointed either after consultation with, on the recommendation of, or after nomination by, named persons or organisations. The intention is evidently that the perspectives of diverse interests in conservation, natural earth and marine sciences, and recreation should thereby be considered in the discharge of the Authority’s functions and powers. Expressing a specific perspective is not therefore a conflict of interest. 

3. In addition, in a small country like New Zealand, conflicts of interest (also known as conflicts of role or conflicts of duty) are not unusual and not always avoidable.

4. It is the duty of each member of the Authority not to vote or take part in decisions with a closed mind on the basis of their external or personal interests or on the direction of third parties.

5. The Authority is committed to transparency and good processes in the conduct of its own dealings and the avoidance of any possibility or perception of an official role being used for private benefit.

6. Participating in a decision despite having a conflict or bias[1] may be lawful but not acceptable politically or in the court of public opinion.

Key test of whether a conflict of interest exists

7. Could a member’s duty or responsibility to the Authority be affected (in actuality or in the reasonable perception of the person in the street) by some other interest or duty the member has?

Guiding principles

8. Objectivity, impartiality, and the integrity of the Authority are the primary guiding principles.

9. The greater the importance of the decision, or the greater the actual or perceived interest, the greater the need for care.

10. The existence of a conflict of interest does not mean a member is in the wrong.

11. Disclosure, and not being part of the decision, is the single most important and effective control and safeguard.

12. If in doubt, stay out.


A. Very minor conflicts of interest that need not be identified

13. The interest is so remote or insignificant that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence the member in carrying out his or her responsibilities, for example:

  • Membership of an organisation (with an interest in an Authority decision) but no executive or director status.

  • Less than 1% shareholding of a business/company with actual or potential interests in public conservation land.

B. Minor conflicts of interest that should be identified to the meeting and noted in the minutes but do not usually preclude full participation

14. The interest is reasonably remote or small but a possibility of conflict or perception of bias exists, for example:

  • Facilitation of pre-formal process (pre-consultation) workshops and public meetings on behalf of or in conjunction with the Department of Conservation or a conservation board during the development or review of a conservation statutory planning document.

  • An interest in land adjoining public conservation land that is under direct consideration by the Authority, unless the member will receive a quantifiable financial benefit from the decision.

  • Where a member has made or is making a submission personally or on behalf of a company or organisation to a process to which the Authority is also submitting.

C. Conflicts of interest that should be identified to the meeting, noted in the minutes and require high level of management

15. The interest is sufficient that a high level of management is required. For example:

  • Where the member’s financial situation could be directly affected by the advice or decision of the NZCA. (This might be where the member is or is in the process of becoming an owner, principal or executive, or staff member with remuneration directly affected by an Authority decision).

  • Where a close relative of the member, de facto partner or other person residing with the member has a financial interest that could be directly affected by the advice or decision of the NZCA.

  • Where a member is or has been a professional advisor or consultant to a person, company or organisation whose financial situation could be directly affected by the advice or decision of the NZCA. Expires two years after ceasing the role unless contractually bound.

  • Where a person has expressed a strong political or public position on or affecting the matter under consideration which may indicate prejudice or bias.

  • Where a member has received a gift or significant hospitality from, or owes a debt to, a person, company or organisation which could be affected by the advice or decision of the Authority.

  • Where a member is beholden to a third party, including another member, for a non-financial reason so that regardless of the information before them, they take or could be seen to take a pre-determined view.

D. Prohibition

16. A member must not make a submission personally or on behalf of a company or organisation to a process where the NZCA is the decision-maker. If the submission was made before the member was appointed, the member must not be part of the NZCA deliberations on the matter.

17. A member must not contract to deliver services to the Authority.

E. Other

18. A register of interests shall be maintained and it is the responsibility of members to keep the information current.

19. Induction about conflicts of interest will be provided to new members at either the first or second meeting after their appointment.

20. A member may choose to divest him/herself of other roles or activities they believe give rise to a conflict with their Authority role.

Management of C category conflicts of interest

21. If a member is aware of a conflict arising before the meeting, prior notification of the conflict should be made to the chairperson.

22. A conflict of interest should be identified at the beginning of each meeting at which it arises including the nature and extent of the interest.

23. A member who is conflicted shall not participate in voting on the item.

24. A member who is conflicted does not count the purpose of forming a quorum for that part of a meeting at which the matter is discussed.

25. The chairperson, having regard to the views of the members, the purposes of the Conservation Act and the public interest, shall decide whether a member with an identified conflict of interest -

  • may take part in any discussion;

  • not participate but remain at the meeting;

  • should withdraw from the meeting;

  • can receive any papers on the matter where he or she has a conflict of interest;

  • can discuss the matter with the other members outside the meeting;

  • may be a member of any committee or working group working on the matter.


Managing conflicts of interest: Guidance for public entities Office of the Auditor-General 2007

Conflicts of interests: Fact sheet for the New Zealand Conservation Authority and conservation boards Department of Conservation reissued 2011

NZCA Conflicts of Interest (2011 version) Presentation by Anne Bogle, Department of Conservation October 2011 


1 Bias is a common legal description of some types of conflict of interest, especially those situations that involve predetermination (Office of the Auditor-General)

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