Working in Environmental Health

In New Zealand Environmental Health practitioners can be found working across Territorial Local Authorities (City and District Councils), Regional Public Health Units, Regional Councils, Central Government, and the New Zealand Defence Force. 

As industry takes a more proactive and holistic approach to safety and quality management, environmental health practioners are increasingly being employed in the private sector to audit internal standards.

The scope of public sector work may vary depending on the employer, but may cover:

  • Drinking water
  • Food Safety
  • Hazardous substances
  • Housing
  • Infectious and communicable disease
  • Noise
  • Pollution
  • Statutory Nuisances
  • Offensive trades
  • Waste management
  • Alcohol licensing

Territorial Local Authorities employ over 60% of environmental health practitioners. Council staff are known as ‘Environmental Health Officers’.  There are twelve Regional Public Health Units that employ environmental health practitioners, known as ‘Health Protection Officers’.  The New Zealand Defence Force also employs Health Protection Officers.


As enforcement officers, there are regulatory controls around the employment of environmental health practioners, which ensure that professional standards are maintained. Those wanting to work in New Zealand as environmental health practioners are subject to the Environmental Health Officers Qualification Regulations 1993.  See Becoming an Environmental Health Practitioner for more information.

Environmental Health Officers and Health Protection Officers work enforcing some or all of the following Acts, and any Regulations made under these Acts:

  • Food Acts 1981 and 2014
  • Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012
  • Biosecurity Act 1993
  • Health Act 1956
  • Burial & Cremation Act 1964
  • Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002
  • Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996
  • Local Government Acts 1974 and 2002
  • Radiation Protection Act 1965
  • Resource Management Act 1991
  • Building Act 2004

All of these Acts and their Regulations are available free of charge at New Zealand Legislation


The skills associated with the profession are:

  • Investigation and assessment
  • Research and evaluation
  • Communication and consultation
  • Education and enforcement