Understanding New Zealanders’ attitudes to the environment

MfE commissioned research on what New Zealanders think about climate change, water and waste.

A sample of the main findings:


  • Around one in three New Zealanders are worried about climate change.
  • There is support (62 per cent) for a more ambitious emissions target.
  • New Zealanders are optimistic that individuals can make a difference (62 per cent) and are responsible for doing so (75 per cent). However, many show a reluctance to ‘walk the talk’ by changing their behaviours.


  • Of those surveyed, 82 per cent of New Zealanders feel that it is very or extremely important to improve the quality of our water.
  • New Zealanders feel that improving water quality is the responsibility of the Government, businesses, and farmers. However, they do not consider that any of these groups are doing enough.
  • New Zealanders have a lower sense of personal responsibility for water quality, and there is generally low awareness of household behaviours that can impact water quality.


  • Of those surveyed, 50 per cent of New Zealanders are very or extremely worried about the impacts of waste.
  • New Zealanders feel that the responsibility for waste reduction falls on everyone, but that the Government is not currently doing enough.
  • Reducing waste was rated as the third most important challenge facing New Zealand over the next 20 years, behind fixing hospitals and providing affordable housing.

Read the full results of the survey