The main New Zealand regulators

This page has a broad overview of the 9 leading commercial regulators in New Zealand.

The FAQs cover selected topics, such as their remits, fields of activity, strategic priorities and enforcement measures -for each of these selected government policy & enforcement agencies. Collectively, they rule over a wide range of financial, corporate, and economic areas of business – including technology, transport, banking, insurance and infrastructure regulators.

Gary has experience dealing with all of these commercial and financial regulators – the core of his legal work involves handling regulatory investigations, prosecutions, appeals, licensing applications and strategies through which clients can develop better regulatory rapport and influence. A business in any given sector may be more or less affected by regulatory intervention, but over 25 years experience navigating the regulatory jungle means resolving this is his core business.

Please contact Gary if you would like to learn more.

Is New Zealand a ‘lightly regulated’ country?

New Zealand is for the most part a well-regulated country, applying forms of principled intervention when consumer welfare, safety, or security issues are at stake, or there is some kind of market failure.

However, it can be seen as a highly regulated country. As a result, understanding the detailed regulatory obligations, or even which agency or government body covers what set of issues (often with overlapping roles) is not always straightforward. That is the case even without the complications of a federal/state divide as other nations have.

The rule of law is mostly respected, and New Zealand’s court system is modern, impartial and willing to intervene when a regulatory investigation or initiative has somehow gone off the rails.

Who are the leading New Zealand commercial regulators?

This page selects the main 9 regulators that control types of activity or misconduct across a wide swathe of industries.  The list is necessarily selective, and leaves out other important core agencies who have a role to play – Inland Revenue in the taxation system, NZ Treasury which is in the ‘Council of Financial Regulators’ group. But instead this outlines details of the bodies most likely to impact general commercial liability and business compliance risk.

These agencies can be contrasted with sector-specific regulators, who also have deep and important powers but jurisdiction only over firms and persons within their particular industries.  Important examples include the Electricity Authority, or Maritime New Zealand.

Notes at the foot of this page briefly mention a selection of the many important sector-specific agencies, in the transport, media, financial, infrastructure and gaming industries.

So, in your experience, who are the most influential ‘big 9’ NZ regulators?
  1. Commerce Commission
  2. Financial Markets Authority
  3. Department of Internal Affairs
  4. Reserve Bank of NZ
  5. Worksafe NZ
  6. Overseas Investment Office (LINZ)
  7. Privacy Commission
  8. Serious Fraud Office
  9. MBIE: Companies/Financial Service Providers Integrities Unit, Buildings, Labour

Most of these are semi or fully independent Crown entities.  But their work is funded by and influenced by, the directions set by the government of the day. They are accountable to Parliament, including through a public annual review process (*MBIE excepted), but they are not immune from political pressures and trends.

Notably, one central government department, the sprawling Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is included, since it has important financial, company, employment and infrastructure regulatory units that can have huge impact on business enterprise.

[** MORE FAQs coming soon…**]

Gary has experience dealing with al these commercial and financial regulators – contact him for more background on any regulatory problem.