To reduce the impact of incidents and accidents, we work to make sure that commercial and recreational activities on the water comply with our maritime rules and regulations.

Our approach to compliance

Reducing harm, putting the greatest focus on the biggest risks, and using an intelligence-led process are the three most important elements of our approach to compliance (and to preventing non-compliance).

Our monitoring, investigation and enforcement activities help to make sure that people who are not inclined to meet their obligations will do so, and we hold them to account, if they do not.

Reducing harm

We educate and encourage the maritime community to comply with our rules and regulations.

We know that most people will do the right thing if they are well informed and supported to meet their obligations. Licensing, registration and other entry controls help to make sure they have the knowledge and experience needed to meet the required standards.

Dealing with the biggest risks

We put the most focus on the biggest risks. We work to prevent non-compliance – by pointing out the risks to worker health and safety, maritime security and the marine environment.

Asking ourselves “Is this operator acting safely?”, “What are the factors shaping their activity?”, and “What is the most effective way to fix this problem?”.

For more information about Maritime NZ’s approach to risk management, view the video below.

Maritime New Zealand
Maritime NZ’s approach to risk management.

Intelligence-led process

We combine our information (eg audits, inspections, investigations, knowledge of oil spills and security issues and research) with information we access from other compliance agencies, maritime sector participants, members of the public and others.

All of these information sources help us to build a picture of a person’s attitude, capability and behaviour towards compliance.


Our compliance tools

We use a range of compliance tools to support, encourage and require commercial operators and recreational boaties to comply with the safety, security and environmental protection rules and regulations.

These tools include:

  • licensing, registering and certifying seafarers and commercial operations
  • educating the maritime community
  • improving public awareness and attitudes to regulation
  • communicating the safety risks of non-compliance
  • auditing operators and service providers such as ship surveyors
  • inspecting foreign ships visiting New Zealand
  • investigating incidents and accidents to try to stop them from happening again
  • enforcing the regulations to hold people to account for their actions
  • maintaining close, constructive and effective relationships with those we regulate, to ensure their interests are considered
  • identifying and then fixing individual and sector-wide breaches of regulations
  • streamlining processes to reduce compliance costs for the maritime community.


Our compliance operating model

We have developed a compliance operating model that gives the maritime sector clear guidelines about our responsibilities as the regulator and what we expect from operators.

The guiding principle of this model is that we use the ‘right compliance tools at the right time’, ranging from support and workshops to using the full force of the law.

Our use of tailored (individual) compliance strategies that support, encourage and require individual operators to comply with our rules and regulations helps to create a safer transport system.

The model includes decision-support tools which help us to choose the action to take in response to non-compliance. The tools are based on:

  • the extent of harm (or potential harm)
  • the conduct of those involved (whether it is an isolated event, or an ongoing activity)
  • wider public interest
  • the attitude to compliance of those involved.

More about our compliance operating model

Related information:

Compliance guidelines

Download Compliance Intervention Guidelines.

[PDF: 467kB, 27 pages]