Proposed new measures to improve Aotearoa’s air quality

  • Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Improved air quality to support better health and environmental wellbeing is the focus of proposed amendments to air quality regulations, says the Associate Minister for the Environment, Hon Nanaia Mahuta.

“Although our air quality is good in most places, during winter certain places have spikes in air pollution, mainly from burning wood and coal for home heating. This can have severe health impacts for several communities. 

“These health impacts can range from shortness of breath or coughing to chest pain, heart disease, lung disease or premature death from cardiovascular and respiratory problems. 

“Under the proposed amendments, households already using solid-fuel burner appliances for heating can keep using their existing burners until they reach the end of their life. If they choose to replace their burner, under the proposed regulations they may need to replace the appliance with a lower-emission burner. Households on large properties (over two hectares) will remain excluded from these requirements,” said Hon Nanaia Mahuta. 

“We are not proposing the removal of existing burners because we need to balance air quality improvements with the ability of households to maintain warm and dry homes. 

“The proposed technical amendments will bring our existing air quality standards in line with international standards, improve our air quality and avoid an estimated $820 million of health care costs over the next ten years.” 

Air quality is strongly influenced by particles in the air which are small enough to be inhaled. These are typically measured in terms of size. PM10 refers to particles measuring 10 microns or less in diameter, it includes smaller particles known as PM2.5 (particles measuring 2.5 microns or less). 

“The current National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES Air Quality) only targets PM10. Although this has been successful at improving our air quality, to really improve our air and health, the proposed amendments target PM2.5 which is already regulated in most developed countries. 

“At present over 90 per cent of the burners currently on the market would meet the proposed standard and large retail chains already include compliant models in their lowest price bracket. A list of authorised wood burners can be found at: 

“A two-month consultation on the amendments starts today and I encourage everyone to have their say,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Notes to editors

Consultation will run from Wednesday 26 February to Friday 24 April 2020. The proposed amendments and discussion document can be found at

Government programmes such as Warmer Kiwi Homes, Winter Energy Payments, and the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations, as well as councils’ own programmes will support the transition to more efficient home heating choices.