New Zealand Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources and energy

New Zealand has some oil and natural gas but is otherwise relatively poor in minerals. Only phosphate, carbon, limestone, dolomite and iron sand are present in larger quantities. However, some mining of gold and silver takes place. The country’s great natural resource is the fertile agricultural land. New Zealand is close to four-fifths self-sufficient in energy.

The Taranaki region on the North Island has oil and gas fields. About 20 gas fields account for most of the production, the largest Maui field is offshore. The importance of natural gas production has increased. Gas pipelines have been drawn to the larger cities of the North Island, but much of the gas production is used in the chemical industry, among other things to produce synthetic gasoline.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by New Zealand with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

Most of the oil production takes place in a few fields, and the oil is exported. Production reached a peak in 2008 and has declined somewhat since then. Most of the oil demand is filled through imports.

Coal is the country’s largest non-renewable energy source, but the deposits consist mostly of lignite which has a relatively low energy content. There is no nuclear power.

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New Zealand is self-sufficient in electricity. Four-fifths of the electricity comes from renewable energy sources: hydropower, wind power and geothermal energy. Hydropower is well developed, mainly on the South Island, and covers two-thirds of the country’s electricity consumption. The dependence on hydropower creates problems in drought, and the country has been hit by electricity shortage several times.

New Zealand ratified the Kyoto Agreement in 2002, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2008, the country began to phase in emissions trading, as part of its efforts to reduce emissions of mainly carbon dioxide. New Zealand has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, according to the Paris climate agreement of 2015. However, a survey by the OECD Economic Cooperation Organization of 2017 showed that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased by close to one percent. one quarter compared to 1990. Among the OECD countries, New Zealand was in fifth place in terms of per capita emissions at the middle of the 2010s. At the end of 2017, the Labor-led coalition government presented a plan to completely stop greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Agriculture is a major climate impediment and accounts for almost half of the emissions, which is the highest proportion of OECD countries. It is especially dairy production that puts the environment under great strain, not least by leading to elevated levels of nitrogen in the country’s lakes and rivers and in the soil.

Wetlands disappear and the forest is cut down in the lowlands poses a threat to hundreds of animal and plant species. In 2000, a program was launched to try to stop this development.


Energy use per person

4 445 kilos of oil equivalent (2015)

Electricity consumption per person

9026 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

34 664 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

7.7 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

30.8 percent (2015)



Shearer new Labor leader

David Shearer appointed as new Labor leader.

Key forms minority government

Nationalist Party leader John Key forms his second minority government (see Current Politics).


No to drum system replacement

In a referendum held at the same time as the parliamentary elections, a majority of New Zealanders say no to changing the electoral system.

Election victory for the Nationalist Party

The Nationalist Party wins the parliamentary elections (see Current Politics), which will be a major setback for Labor, whose leader Phil Goff resigns.


Environmental disaster at sea

An oil ship runs on the shore outside the North Island, and 350 tonnes of oil leak into a natural area with penguins and other bird species as well as seals, dolphins and whales. It is New Zealand’s biggest environmental disaster so far at sea.


Aftershock in Christchurch

The city of Christchurch on the South Island is affected by several aftershocks, which cause material damage.


Thousands of buildings in Christchurch have to be demolished

It is estimated that at least 6,000 of the earthquake-damaged buildings in the city of Christchurch on the South Island (see February 2011) cannot be repaired and must be demolished.


Severe consequences after earthquake

185 people are killed in a powerful earthquake that hit the city of Christchurch on the South Island. More than 100 of the victims are killed when a wrongly constructed six-storey house collapses. Many thousands of people become homeless. In total, about 100,000 houses are damaged.



Severe mining accident

A mining accident requires 29 lives and leads to the government appointing a special commission to investigate the conditions for the mining industry.


Trade union conflict over filming

A trade union conflict arises around the planned recording of the Hobbit films (after JRR Tolkien’s novel about Bilbo). The American film company threatens to abandon New Zealand because of the demands of the trade union. Thousands of New Zealanders are demonstrating for the recording to take place in the country. The government then decides to change the labor legislation, which means a deterioration of the film workers’ union rights. The Labor opposition faces harsh criticism of the whole. The government also decides to increase its financial contributions to big-budget films produced in New Zealand. The country receives the recording, which is expected to greatly increase tourism income (see Tourism).


The indigenous people’s rights declaration is signed

The government signs the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see also Modern History).


Reconciliation with Fiji

Fiji and New Zealand restore diplomatic relations (see December 2008 and November 2009).

New Zealand Energy and Environment Facts

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