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About legislation

There are two main types of New Zealand legislation:

  • Acts of Parliament (also called Statutes)
  • secondary legislation.

Acts of Parliament

These are laws made by the New Zealand Parliament. There are three main types of Act:

  • public Acts: Acts that are of general application; most Acts are Public Acts
  • local Acts: Acts that affect a particular locality only
  • private Acts: Acts that are for the particular interest or benefit of a person or body.

Proposed Acts are called Bills. Most Bills are drafted by the PCO. Bills are categorised as Government Bills, Member’s Bills, local Bills, and private Bills. Proposed amendments to a Bill may be set out in a document known as a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP).

Secondary legislation

Secondary legislation is law made:

  • by someone other than Parliament
  • under a power that Parliament has formally delegated in a particular Act.   

A small amount of secondary legislation is made not under an Act but under the Royal prerogative. Secondary legislation is defined in section 5 of the Legislation Act 2019.

Secondary legislation can have titles like “regulations”, “rules” and “Orders in Council”.

Secondary legislation drafted by the PCO is available on the New Zealand Legislation website. It has an SL reference number or, if made earlier, an LI or SR reference number.

The Legislation Act 2019 and the Secondary Legislation Act 2021 simplified terminology relating to secondary legislation. For more information see Secondary legislation reforms.

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