40 Series Reform project

The 40-Series Reform project is a multi-year project to reshape the rules governing domestic commercial vessels’ design, construction and equipment.

Updated September 2023

Latest updates

Date Update

September 2023

The exploring change documents for Accommodation, personal safety, access and escape; Anchors and Cables; Navigation; and Radiocommunications are now available for comment. One page summaries are provided to assist with reviewing some of these topic areas.

We would appreciate comments by 3 November 2023 to 40.Series@maritimenz.govt.nz.


During 2021, 2022 and early 2023 Maritime NZ sought comment on the exploring change documents for Life-Saving Appliances; Fire Protection; Electrical, Survey and Certificate of Survey; Stability, Drainage and Freeboard; Watertight and Weathertight Integrity; and Machinery. Thank you to those that provided comment.

If you have any additional comments on these topic areas they can also be sent to 40.Series@maritimenz.govt.nz.

Project overview

The intention is to re-organise the rules into a number of different topic areas and harmonise them across vessel types as much as possible.

At the moment the rules are defined by which vessel type they refer to – passenger; non-passenger; fishing; sailing. This causes duplication and inconsistencies and doesn’t allow the rules to be easily updated to cater for new innovations.

Five goals for the new rules

The approach being taken to reforming the rules has these goals:

  • NEW RULES STRUCTURE – Providing a clear rules structure, simple for the sector and regulator to follow.
  • OUTCOME-BASED RULES – A set of over-arching rules which give a framework for the sector to work, which are flexible enough to sustain changes to technology and sector practice.
  • TRANSPORT INSTRUMENTS CONTAIN DETAIL – Specific requirements are contained in a set of transport instruments which are easier to amend and can be kept up to date with advances in technology.
  • CONSOLIDATION AND HARMONISATION – Rules are consolidated wherever possible across commercial passenger carrying, non-passenger carrying, sailing and fishing vessels to eliminate the inconsistencies that currently exist. We will have a set of rules for all vessels, with specific detail for the different classes only where necessary.
  • RISK-BASED APPROACH TO SETTING STANDARDS – Ensuring the rules are commensurate with the risk - so that we don’t over-regulate where it is not necessary, but nor do we under-estimate the risk for the conditions in which a vessel is operating.


Exploring change

This is a big piece of work and Maritime NZ has spent time gathering information; doing the groundwork to develop a way of organising the rules; and is progressively exploring potential change through the 15 topic areas.

Maritime NZ has been exploring the potential for change on a range of topics, including Life-Saving Appliances; Fire Protection; Electrical, Survey and Certificate of Survey; Stability, Drainage and Freeboard; Watertight and Weathertight Integrity; and Machinery. Potential changes are now being explored for other key areas, including Accommodation, personal safety, access and escape; Anchors and Cables; Navigation; and Radiocommunications.
Working with technical experts in each of these areas, we are identifying possible ways to resolve issues for vessels entering the commercial fleet and existing vessels in the fleet.

As we identify proposals for each topic area, we are testing key areas of potential change with stakeholders, including surveyors, owners, operators, boat builders, and equipment suppliers. By engaging widely and progressively we expect to be able to develop a more straightforward and user-friendly set of rules for the future.

Maritime New Zealand welcomes comment on this initial exploratory work. Refer to the exploring change documents page for further information on areas that we are currently seeking comment on.

By providing the opportunity for every group in the sector to engage with the information in ‘bite-sized’ chunks, Maritime NZ wants to get all perspectives. We intend that everyone involved has the chance to raise the issues they want to, as we explore potential changes, before the new rules are formally drafted.

Once the rules are formally drafted there will be a formal public consultation phase.


Introduction of new rules

We will continue to keep the maritime sector updated as we go through the process. The process and timescales are indicated below and we will continually update these with more detail as we go along:

What When
Establishment Phase - Initial design of a rules structure – outcome-based; transport instruments containing detail to allow flexibility; consolidated and harmonised; and risk-based. 2019 - 2020
Exploring Change Phase - Development of content for new rules with wide sector engagement 2021 - 2023
Drafting Phase - Draft formal rules and associated material (will commence in parallel with Exploring Change phase, as engagement on each topic is completed) Mid 2021 - mid 2024
Consultation Phase (three packages) - Formal public consultation on draft rules (subject to Ministerial agreement). Mid 2024 to early 2025
Finalisation Phase - Analysis of submissions and final drafting Dependent on the consultation processes – expected 2025
Legislative Phase – Final Ministerial and government approval Dependent on progress of previous phases

If you have questions or want to talk to the team, please contact us at 40.Series@maritimenz.govt.nz and one of us will get back to you.