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About legislation

There are three main types of New Zealand legislation:

From the commencement of the reforms being put in place by the Legislation Act 2019 and the Secondary Legislation Bill, Legislative Instruments and Other Instruments will be become part of a new category, secondary legislation. For more on these reforms see Secondary legislation under the About the PCO tab.

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, Members' 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).

Legislative Instruments

Legislative Instruments are defined in section 4 of the Legislation Act 2012. They include:

  • most Orders in Council
  • instruments made by a Minister that amend an Act or define the meaning of a term used in an Act
  • instruments required to be published under the Legislation Act 2012
  • some resolutions of the House of Representatives.

Most regulations and rules, and many notices, orders, determinations, and warrants, are Legislative Instruments.

Legislative Instruments are made under the authority of empowering legislation, except those that are resolutions of the House of Representatives. See the annual tables Acts and other authorities under which Legislative Instruments are made. All Legislative Instruments are drafted by the PCO, except those that are resolutions of the House of Representatives.

Legislative Instruments are a type of disallowable instrument, as defined in section 38 of the Legislation Act 2012.

Legislative Instruments have an LI reference number. However, those made between 5 August 2013 and 31 December 2013 were published as part of the Statutory Regulations (SR) series and have an SR reference number instead.

On the New Zealand Legislation website, documents that before 5 August 2013 were located under "Regulations" are now located under "Legislative Instruments".

Other Instruments

Other Instruments, in the context of the New Zealand Legislation website, are instruments that are made under Acts or the Royal prerogative and that may have legislative effect, but are not Legislative Instruments. Examples include most land transport rules, civil aviation rules, and a wide variety of other rules, codes, and instruments. Other Instruments are not usually drafted by the PCO.

More information about Other Instruments »

Tables of legislation in force

The annual Tables of New Zealand Acts and Ordinances and Statutory Regulations and Deemed Regulations in Force was a series published by the PCO in printed form only. The 2013 Tables (up to 1 January 2014) was the last volume published. The series was discontinued because information is available in various forms through the New Zealand Legislation website. More information about the Tables »

See also the table of legislation waiting to be brought into force by Order in Council.

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