Legislation we administer

We have functions and responsibilities under several Acts of Parliament. Our duties include communicating, applying and enforcing this legislation.

On this page:

Maritime Transport Act 1994

The Maritime Transport Act 1994 is the primary legislation that describes the role and functions of us and our Director. It sets out the legal framework for maritime safety and protection of the marine environment, including:

  • licensing of ships and crew
  • investigation of maritime accidents
  • offences, response for oil spills planning and preparedness
  • other aspects of maritime law such as salvage, liability for pollution damage, limitation of liability, and compensation.

This Act also provides for the Minister of Transport and Governor General to make maritime and marine protection rules. These rules contain the detailed standards and requirements that the maritime community are required to comply with.

Our Director is responsible for enforcing this Act however the Ministry of Transport (MoT) administers it. The MoT is responsible for this legislation and for making recommendations to the Government if it needs to be improved or changed in any way.

Regulations made under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 include:

  • Maritime Leview Regulations 2016
  • Maritime Transport Act (Conventions) Order 1994/273
  • Maritime Transport (Fund Convention) Levies Order 1996/337
  • Maritime Transport (Maximum amounts of liability for pollution damage) Order 2003
  • Oil Pollution Levies Order 2013/154
  • Oil Pollution Levies Order 2016
  • Maritime (Offences) Regulations 1998/444
  • Maritime Transport (Infringement Fees For Offences Relating To Major Maritime Events) Regulations 1999/243
  • Maritime Transport Act (Marine Protection Conventions) Order 1999/263
  • Shipping (Charges) Regulations 2016
  • Marine Protection (Offences) Regulations 1998/205.

Maritime Security Act 2004

We are responsible for enforcing this act however the Ministry of Transport (MoT) administers it.

This Act brought into domestic law New Zealand’s obligations under the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code).

The ISPS Code:

  • was adopted on 12 December 2002
  • includes security requirements for governments, port authorities and shipping companies
  • is an amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS)
  • was developed following the events of 11 September 2001 (9/11) in the United States of America
  • established a maritime security framework to detect security threats and take preventive measures against security incidents affecting ships or port facilities serving New Zealand’s international trade.

Under this Act certain ships, and the ports that serve them, are required to have a security assessment and develop and implement a security plan. We assess these security plans.

Our Director sets the security level and has the power to act in response to security threats and to prevent security incidents for ships or port facilities serving New Zealand's international trade.

Regulations made under the Maritime Security Act 1994 include:

  • Maritime Security (Designated Authority) Order 2004
  • Maritime Security (Maritime Security Organisations) Order 2004
  • Maritime Security (Charges) Regulations 2016

Ship Registration Act 1992

We are required to maintain the New Zealand register of ships – a list of all vessels registered as New Zealand ships. For some New Zealand ships it is compulsory to be registered. For others it is voluntary. All New Zealand ships that travel overseas must be registered.

Ship registration provides evidence of nationality. A ship that is registered in New Zealand has the protection of our Government when it is overseas. This is similar to the protection a New Zealand citizen has when travelling overseas. A ship’s registration papers provide proof of identity, like a passport does for a person.

The Ship Registration Act 1992 sets out:

  • those ships that are required or entitled to be registered
  • the criteria for registration
  • general matters relating to ownership, mortgages, and other interests in ships.

The Ministry of Transport administers this Act.

The only regulation under this Act is ‘Ship Registration (Fees) Regulations 2013’.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

This Act sets the broad principles and standards for health and safety in New Zealand workplaces.

We are responsible for administering this Act for work on board ships and ships as places as work.

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Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

Our Director is responsible for ensuring the provisions of this Act are applied to all ships.

This Act regulates the:

  • importation and manufacture of hazardous substances such as explosives, and flammable, corrosive, toxic and eco-toxic substances
  • introduction of new organisms into New Zealand, including genetically modified plants, animals, and other living things.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) administers this Act.

Civil Aviation Act 1990

We are responsible for search and rescue operations under Section 14C of this Act.

The Ministry of Transport administers this Act.

Our Rescue Coordination Centre (RCCNZ) coordinates search and rescue for:

  • major maritime, aviation and land-based search and rescue operations in New Zealand’s search and rescue region
  • land-based search and rescue missions arising from someone activating an emergency locator beacon.
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